Use of defence force with police for domestic reasons, a cause for concern

Opinion by FF Plus

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Use of defence force with police for domestic reasons, a cause for concern
Use of defence force with police for domestic reasons, a cause for concern

The deployment of the South African National Defence Force in the Western Cape to assist with combating crime is an indirect admission by the government that it has lost the fight against crime and it raises the question of whether the police and the defence force have been adequately trained to cooperate in such situations.

Section 200 of the Constitution clearly stipulates that the purpose of the defence force is to ensure that the country’s territorial integrity is protected.

Everyone knows that there is currently no international or foreign threat against South Africa. There is, however, an internal threat in the defence force. Since 2004, the FF Plus has pointed out with every single budget vote debate in the National Assembly that the budget allocated to the defence force is insufficient and that it is a problem.

The budget is once again inadequate, but in the media there are reports about a senior defence force officer who spent hundreds of millions of rand on corrupt tenders and on top of that, it is rumoured that an extramarital affair played a role and tax money was used for self-enrichment. That was most probably the biggest sum of lobola that has ever been paid with taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

At present, the greatest domestic threat is corruption. How can taxpayers be expected to pay more money in taxes if hundreds of millions of rand are lost due to corruption?

Concerning the deployment of the defence force to cooperate with the police in the Western Cape, Section 201 of the Constitution makes it clear that the President of the country does have the power to sanction it, but that he must inform Parliament.

Hopefully, he will state how many soldiers will be deployed, where they will be deployed, for how long they will be deployed and the reason for their deployment during his presidential budget vote debate this afternoon.

The FF Plus feels that the defence force can be deployed for domestic reasons in some cases, but it certainly is not ideal. The mere fact that this is happening means that the ANC government is admitting that crime is out of control, in the Western Cape specifically, and that the police are unable to handle it on their own.

The FF Plus is worried about soldiers being deployed domestically and it raises the question of whether these soldiers are adequately trained and if they know how to deal with crime situations. Another question is whether police members have been trained to cooperate with the defence force. Probably not.

There is already a clash of egos in the police service itself. Apparently, in the gang unit, there is jealousy among those in the command structure and this has lead to the failure of certain police operations against gangs during which police members were shot dead.

It is common knowledge that as soon as the police and the defence force have to work together, clashing egos become a problem and it leads to quarrels about who is in command and who has control over who. The FF Plus is concerned about these internal differences and the fact that it could sabotage the successful combating of gang related crime.

Read the original article in Afrikaans by Dr Pieter Groenewald on FF Plus

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