No need for state of emergency, 2 500 soldiers not a thumbsuck- defence minister

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  • The defence minister says a state of emergency is not necessary amid ongoing riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
  • She says the deployment of soldiers has cost and resource implications.
  • Ongoing assessments are being made.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says authorities don't believe that a state of emergency is warranted for the ongoing unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

She says declaring a state of emergency means citizens' liberty will be taken away and the military will take over the running of the country. 

"When the time comes, informed by intelligence gathered and coordinated by the three entities, the president is advised, then the president will declare a state of emergency if the need arises. For now, the situation looks like it has gone out of hand, people are in a state of panic. But whether it is correct, for now, to declare a state of emergency, we do not think so."

Mapisa-Nqakula was addressing the media during a briefing by security cluster ministers on Tuesday.

About 2 500 soldiers have been deployed to KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng amid the riots - a mere fraction of the more than 70 000 soldiers that were deployed in 2020 to enforce nationwide lockdown regulations to curb the spread of Covid-19.

READ | #ZumaUnrest: President will only declare state of emergency if needed - defence minister

The minister said that behind the scenes, the defence's top brass were grappling with the appropriate number of soldiers that need to be deployed to the affected areas.

In many parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, there was no sign of soldiers in areas where looting and riots persisted. 

"When you talk numbers, you also talk possible expenditure that is likely to incur for the deployment of people. You do not wake up and thumbsuck those numbers," Mapisa-Nqakula said. 

She added that that ongoing assessments were being made.


Chief of Joint Operations, Major General Siphiwe Sangweni, would not say where the  2 500 soldiers were expected to be deployed to. 

"The SANDF conducts deployments and operations in the country in support of the SAPS and to assist other state departments, meaning that SAPS and other law enforcement agencies will conduct their work. When there [are] situations that require or warrant [it], a call will be made," he said. 

When asked about possible violations of citizens' rights by SANDF soldiers, he said: "I cannot stand here and say [there] will not be any misconduct. But there are measures to deal with misconduct in the military and in any environment."

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