Defence Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, says the President will only declare a State of Emergency when the need arises.
While the Minister strongly condemned the current looting and damage to infrastructure, she did not believe the situation warrants a State of Emergency.
Mapisa-Nqakula was speaking during a briefing by Ministers in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster amid public violence flare-ups in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
“If the time comes, informed by intelligence gathered and coordinated by the three entities [SAPS, Defence and State Security], the President will be advised and [only] then would he declare a State of Emergency, if the need arises, based on that assessment report.”
The Minister acknowledged that the situation is grave, and the nation is duly panicked.
“… We’re all concerned about what is happening… A… State of Emergency [however means that]… you take all the liberties from the citizens and the military takes over the country. For now, we don’t think we’ve reached that point,” she explained.
As the Commander-in-Chief of the South African Defence Force (SANDF), the President has deployed the army in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in support of the operations of the South African Police Service (SAPS).
Mapisa-Nqakula said the number of soldiers mobilised is far less than those who were deployed during the COVID-19 hard lockdown.
She said an ongoing assessment is taking place behind closed doors to make decisions about the number of soldiers who will be deployed on the ground.
“When we talk numbers, we also have to talk possible expenditure incurred for the deployment of those people… We’re informed by intelligence, and then [we will] decide about what kind of strength we need for deployment, and then we will make an announcement.”
The deployment of soldiers
Major General Siphiwe Lucky Sangweni said the SANDF conducts deployment operations inside the country in support of the SAPS and to assist other State departments.
“SAPS and other law enforcement agencies will conduct their work and when there is a situation that requires or warrants that the military assists and supports as the security cluster, then the call will be made then,” he explained.
According to Sangweni, this involves conducting assessments and then the decision is sanctioned by the President.
“It’s the President that will authorise the deployment of military internal operations.
“It will not be correct that the military is at the forefront in terms of law enforcement and dealing with criminality in the country,” he said.