SANDF deployed to help SAPS fight zama-zamas, construction Mafia

President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent in the army to help the police in fighting crime. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent in the army to help the police in fighting crime. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

Published Nov 2, 2023


President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the deployment of the army to help the police in fighting the construction Mafia and illegal miners.

Ramaphosa sent a letter to the Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and National Council of Provinces chairperson, Amos Masondo, stating that he was deploying more than 800 soldiers to fight crime in the country.

The president confirmed on Thursday, during questions in Parliament and when United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa asked about the army, that hundreds of soldiers will help fight economic infrastructure crimes and illegal miners.

Recently, the police were forced to intervene in Riverlea, south of Johannesburg, where illegal miners engaged in a gunfight in the streets that left six members of rival gangs dead.

This was not the first time zama-zamas have been involved in violence and gun battles in Gauteng.

The National Assembly’s portfolio committee on mineral resources was on an oversight visit in Gauteng a few months ago to look at illegal mining and whether the recommendations they made last year have been implemented by the South African Police Service, the Department of Home Affairs, and other departments to deal with illegal mining.

The construction Mafia has also been accused of stalling projects across the country.

Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said thousands of projects were stalled over the years for various reasons, including the construction Mafia but they are reviving some of them now.

Ramaphosa said they have deployed almost 900 soldiers to help the police fight illegal mining and the construction Mafia.

“Recently, I wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly as well as the chair of the National Council of Provinces, informing them I am extending the deployment of almost 900 soldiers to work with the police when it comes to safeguarding public infrastructure in our country and performing other tasks such as having to deal with brazen acts of criminals such as in construction as well as illegal mining. We already see that the support they lend to the police is invaluable,” said Ramaphosa.

He said they will increase the budget of the South African National Defence Force, which has over the years been cut by the National Treasury.

Ramaphosa said the military has come up with a plan that will turn it around, and this will require resources.

The government was committed to increasing the budget of the SANDF to ensure it was able to deliver on its mandate.

Ramaphosa said the army has in the past intervened during the July 2021 unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

The army was also deployed in hotspot areas a few months ago during the spate of torching of trucks in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu-Natal.

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