Parliament of South Africa

11/17/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/17/2023 02:19

Use of Force Against SANDF Will Be Met With Concomitant Force, Illegal Miners Warned

The Joint Standing Committee on Defence has given its full backing to the deployment of the South African National Defence (SANDF) to serve in cooperation with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to combat crime and maintain and preserve law and order in South Africa under Operation Prosper.

The committee highlighted that the brazen nature of illegal mining made this intervention essential. This is because the perpetrators of this crime are armed with high-caliber weapons and pose a risk not only to members of law enforcement agencies but also to communities.

"We must be categorically clear that perpetrators must leave those areas, or they will be dragged out by force. We must also condemn the continued harassment of communities and engagement in turf wars that affect the peace in areas they are occupying," said Mr Cyril Xaba, the co-Chairperson of the committee.

Meanwhile, the committee welcomed the assurance that the SANDF can equal the illegal miners' firepower. It also issued a stern warning that criminals must not confront law enforcement agencies.

The deployment takes place in accordance with the provisions of section 201(2) (a) of the Constitution and forms part of the security cluster's efforts to address organised crime linked to illicit mining. Illegal miners carry illegal high-caliber rifles and explosives and torture and harass communities residing in the vicinity of the disused mining areas.

A compliment of 3 300 SANDF members will be deployed in cooperation with the SAPS to support the security cluster in the fight against illegal mining and related criminality across the country. The deployment will be for six months from 28 October 2023 to 28 April 2024. It is estimated that the cost of the operation will be R492 143 296, comprising R256 651 296 for employee compensation and R235 492 000 for goods and services.

Despite its unanimous support, the committee is concerned that the deployment is unfunded and will require reprioritisation within the Department of Defence's budget allocation. This concern was accentuated by the recent baseline reductions that have affected all government departments.

The committee also underscored that the SANDF deployment is a short-term solution and that broader solutions must be developed to deal with this scourge.

Malatswa Molepo

17 November 2023