SANDF deployment to Cape Flats kept vague for 'element of surprise' - defence minister

Law enforcement officers during an operation in Philippi, Cape Town. (Jaco Marais, file)
Law enforcement officers during an operation in Philippi, Cape Town. (Jaco Marais, file)

Although the army will be deployed to violence-plagued communities on the Cape Flats, the precise details of when they are expected to start work has been kept vague as part of an "element of surprise".

Gang-infested areas have been waiting since Thursday evening for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to be deployed to 10 neighbourhoods announced by Minister of Police Bheki Cele.

However, mission readiness training and a delay in important deployment paperwork has held up the imminent deployment, News24 reported earlier this week.

WATCH: Troops undergo 'mission ready training' ahead of Cape Flats deployment

Now, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has given another reason for the vagueness around deployment.

"It's always better to have an element of surprise," she said at a briefing before her budget vote speech in Parliament.

She conceded that the defence force wasn't trained to control crowds, but said the army could nonetheless play a role in stabilising the situation. She said the gangs "ruling" the area were "undermining the authority of the state".

"It is appropriate that the commander-in-chief (President Cyril Ramaphosa) deployed the defence force," she said.

She said they didn't expect the use of excessive force and hoped the soldiers wouldn't be provoked to respond in "a certain way".

SANDF confirmed on Tuesday that the army deployment was definitely going ahead, but that they were awaiting the finalisation of deployment papers, SAFM reported.

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