Police minister Fikile Mbalula has asked the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to step in to assist with fighting crime in the Western Cape and Gauteng, Times Live reported. However, there have been questions about whether the minister has the authority to do this.
On Tuesday night, the police ministry said that recently, "weapons of war" had been used in the commission of serious crimes, and children and bystanders had fallen victim to gang-related crimes.
"When I visited the community of Elsies River‚ one community leader referred to the terror caused by gangs as an act of terrorism‚ I want to tell the people of Elsies River that I heard you‚ and I am acting‚" Mbalula reportedly said.
He might have taken the wind out of Western Cape premier Helen Zille's sails: the premier called for the SANDF to be deployed to the Western Cape this week, too, Eyewitness News (EWN) reported. Zille was expected to make a proposal to the provincial cabinet this week about the feasibility of asking national government to authorise the deployment of the SANDF.
Zille has been asking President Jacob Zuma to send the army to the Western Cape, to assist in bringing gang-related violence under control, but to no avail.
Residents of Nyanga and Philippi East near Cape Town have reportedly called for the SANDF to be deployed, citing a failure by police.
Some have questioned why Zille's plea has been ignored until now:
There have also been questions about the timing of the announcement, given that Mbalula is currently facing allegations that he visited Dubai on holiday at the expense of a sporting goods company which does business with Sascoc.
A blatant attempt to deflect attention from having to answer awkward questions about Dubai https://t.co/E6saC18adQ— Lawson Naidoo (@LawsonNaidoo) October 10, 2017
But perhaps more significantly, many have pointed out that Mbalula cannot ask the SANDF -- only the president can authorise the deployment of the army.
This "request" was made to the wrong party. In terms of the Constitution, only the president may employ the defence force. https://t.co/pk0zZ3pOpb— Charl du Plessis (@CharlduPlessc) October 10, 2017
Someone just advice that according to constitution president is the only one who can deploy SANDF Mbalula must read the constitution— Lerato Omar (@LeratoOmar) October 10, 2017