The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, yesterday made an announcement of the deployment of the South African National Defence Force in Alexandra, east of Johannesburg, after the xenophobic attacks in the area spiralled out of control.
This was also after a man was murdered in cold blood and in full view of the residents. The tragic incident was captured by a journalist while it transpired. Capetalk’s John Maytham spoke to Pikkie Greeff, National Secretary of South African National Defence Union (SANDU), about the concerns over the meaning of SANDF deployment to handle the outbreak of xenophobic violence in what is essentially a civilian issue.
The union doesn’t really have a mandate to judge the merits of the decision of the deployment of the SANDF, which is of course the prerogative of the commander in chief and the SANDF command structure. So our mandate it is more aimed at seeing that while troops are deployed or employed in any role in South Africa that service conditions, equipment and so on is looked after.
Greeff further said that as the union they are in no position to scrutinise the rights and wrongs of the deployment because the Defence Act does allow for this kind of deployment where the authorities would believe that the police need the assistance of the Defence Force.
According to Greeff, Emmanuel Sithole’s death was a game changer. The government had made announcement that the situation was under control only to change 24 hours later after the Sunday Times published the brutal murder of Sithole.