Cape Town - SANDF told parliamentarians on Friday that it does not have information that unrest or criminality would happen during the local government elections on Monday.
Briefing the joint standing committee on defence, chief of joint operations Lieutenant-General Siphiwe Sangweni said they were hoping that they would not be placed under pressure.
“We do hope that there might not be a need for SANDF or other law enforcement agencies to be under pressure due to some situations that are not necessary.
“Hopefully it will be a free and fair election,” he said.
Sangweni was briefing MPs on the deployment of 10 000 soldiers from Saturday until Wednesday at a cost of R47.2 million.
He said the assessment by the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structures (NatJoints) determined a probability of security threat towards the local government election.
He also said a need was determined to involve the army to form part of the government’s effort to ensure a safe and secure environment for the holding of the elections.
“The SANDF capability is required to deploy in cooperation with the SAPS to provide the required support and assistance in line with the constitutional legislative framework.”
A report Sangweni presented to the committee said the soldiers will protect the national key points and critical infrastructure.
It also said SANDF will also provide air transport support during the election as well as provide members to be trained as electoral officials.
The primary focus of the SANDF will be also protect IEC voting material storage warehouses and be on standby to respond to situations beyond the control of the law enforcement agencies.
Sangweni told the parliamentarians that they would try as much as possible to remain behind the scenes and allow democratic dispensation to play itself out without strict security measures.
“Immediately we are on the streets, it indicates strict security measures put in place by the government.”
He said they had hoped that the military would not be deployed.
“We hoped and I believe all the citizens of the country and your good selves as the committee would have preferred that the military is not involved whilst the country is exercising the democratic processes freely.
“But due to the issue of more SAPS or police required to provide safety and security and provide law enforcement, they had to be released from the static and strategic environment of national key points and critical infrastructure, so we had to come in there.”
He also said in light of the July riots, they have contingency to deal with them should they happen gain.
“We do not have as SANDF information that unrest or criminality will happen but, we are planning ahead to ensure that we are available and ready as the entire effort of justice, crime prevention and security cluster to ensure safety and security for the election.”
Sangweni defended the reduction in the number of soldiers and duration of the deployment compared to that undertaken in 2016.
“We have applied ourselves to try as much as possible to contain costs where possible.”
He also said they had taken a different approach this time around.
“It is preferable that the military be not on the streets, not be at voting stations, and go deal with critical objectives primarily to relieve the SAPS and the metro police to go out there and be at voting stations and to do visible policing and other law enforcement requirements.”