Two thousand seven hundred SA National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers are to remain on South Africa’s streets until March to help the police maintain law and order.
The deployment, which will cost R233 million, has been authorised by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Details of the deployment extension – from 18 December 2021 to 18 March 2022 – were contained in a letter to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo.
According to News24, Parliament said the deployment, in co-operation with the police, was to prevent and combat crime and for the preservation of law and order within the country.
‘The employment is done in accordance with Section 201[a] of the Constitution of South Africa of 1996 and Section 18 of the Defence Act of 2002,’ Parliament said.
News24 reported that Ramaphosa deployed 25 000 soldiers in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal following the unrest in July and August last year, but that the deployment was reduced to 10 000 towards the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa hastily withdrew on Thursday from an ANC Women’s League event amid security concerns and violations of Covid-19 regulations.
He was meant to address members of the league at the Lebowakgomo Civic Centre on Thursday afternoon.
News24 reported that the event was ‘cancelled after Ramaphosa was whisked away’ by presidential protection unit agents.
ANCWL deputy president Sisi Ntombela, who was the programme director, said individuals who had gained access to the venue without being adequately screened posed a grave security risk.
She was quoted as saying: ‘Given the recent events that have befallen our country [the burning of Parliament and the attack on the Constitutional Court precinct], we cannot take risks with the life of the president.’
According to News24, after the abrupt ending of the meeting, a large delegation of what looked like police personnel and ANC provincial leaders gathered for a debriefing at the back of the venue.