Army stands firm amid threats of renewed violence

SANDF scoffs at Julius Malema's tweet about potential withdrawal of troops

23 August 2021 - 15:55 By graeme hosken
A member of the SANDF patrols in Soweto after violent protests and looting. File photo.
A member of the SANDF patrols in Soweto after violent protests and looting. File photo.
Image: Alon Skuy/Sunday Times

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has come out guns blazing after EFF leader Julius Malema posted a tweet suggesting the army was threatening to withdraw from its security deployments in SA.

Malema took to Twitter on Sunday with the post: “The army is threatening to withdraw,” accompanied by a message from a soldier deployed in KwaZulu-Natal under Operation Prosper pleading for his help.

The soldier, whose identity was hidden, alleged that deployed soldiers had not received food supplies for the past week and were having to buy their own meals: “Since last week we are buying food for us from own salary, don’t provide us since last week, they promise us meal allowance, even now no meal allowance. [sic]”

President Cyril Ramaphosa last month authorised the deployment of 25,000 soldiers under Operation Prosper to help quell deadly violence which erupted in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal after the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma. The violence saw 300 people killed and billions worth of infrastructure damaged.

It is outright disingenuous to suggest or to insinuate that soldiers are starving and are considering withdrawing from the operation.
Brig-Gen Mafi Mgobozi

SANDF spokesperson Brig-Gen Mafi Mgobozi said in a statement that the military was highly concerned by ill-intended social media comments about the alleged withdrawal of soldiers from Operation Prosper.

“The SANDF dismisses with contempt and scoffs at the baseless insinuations aimed at causing panic in the country. Perpetrators of these insinuations are reminded that it is an illegal and a prosecutable offence to spread fake news or misinformation.”

Speaking to TimesLIVE, he said the SANDF acknowledged there had been challenges regarding ration packs and meal allowance payments.

“There were delays in the availability of ration packs and the payment of meal allowances, only in KwaZulu-Natal. The delays were because of administration errors. These delays have been urgently addressed and the challenges largely resolved.

“Most soldiers have received either their meal allowances, which troops use to buy their own food, or their ration packs.”

He said when they came across instances where soldiers had not received allowances or rations they were working on ensuring that they did.

In regards to poor-quality rations, which the SA National Defence Union raised last month, Mgobozi said they had not received any such complaints.

“We can categorically state that there is no withdrawal of troops, and that none have gone Awol or walked off from their posts.

“It is outright disingenuous to suggest or to insinuate that soldiers are starving and are considering withdrawing from the operation.”

Regarding where troops were being housed, Mgobozi said it depended on where they were deployed: “Some are housed in bases while others, who are deployed in rural areas, sleep in the field.”

TimesLIVE


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