South Africa 22.4.2015 03:59 pm

Lekota slams army deployment

FILE PICTURE: Mosiuoa Lekota from COPE. Photo Amanda Watson

FILE PICTURE: Mosiuoa Lekota from COPE. Photo Amanda Watson

There is absolutely no need for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to go into communities to support the police, said former Minister of Defence and Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mosiuoa Lekota.

“The South African Police Service in all its units, working together with intelligence services, ought to be in a position to arrest people who are assaulting others,” Lekota said on Wednesday.

“They have the equipment and the skill to control riotous behavior.”

Lekota said when Emmanuel Sithole was killed on Sunday; his murder was perpetrated by only four people. “In fact I am still shocked that the ordinary people that were around there did not intervene to say to these chaps, “you cannot do this thing, you may not do it”. If the police had been about, they could easily have arrested those young men. What would the Defence Force do in that situation, are they expected to shoot the people who were stabbing Sithole?”

Lekota said in terms of the Constitution the President of South Africa may declare a State of National Defence, “in which case he should inform parliament. The President addressed parliament last week and did not, in all of what he said, make such a pronouncement.”

However, Constitutional experts have reportedly said President Jacob Zuma has seven days from the date of deployment of the SANDF to inform parliament.

Lekota added the army was neither trained nor equipped to bring an unarmed civilian population under control. “Only the police service is trained to carry out such a function.

The Defence Force is there to fight and, if necessary, kill the enemies of the State and people of South Africa.”

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, National Commissioner of the police General Riah Phiyega said she regarded the army as a “force multiplier”, leaving it to provide a cordon and backup for police while members conducted operations.

While the army itself has kept a very low profile on Wednesday, police presence has remained high, particularly in Jeppestown, where police conducted a raid on the men’s hostel in Wolhuter Street.

No incidents of violence have been reported yet today in Johannesburg area.

“We are being taken back to the time of apartheid,” Lekota said. “It looks like our government, unable to solve its problems, is now going to use the same old method of apartheid by treating us, the people of South Africa, as its enemies.”

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