Illegally patrolling SANDF soldiers ordered off Kimberley streets ahead of ANC's January 8 statement

Defence force says troops had no business being on the streets

09 January 2020 - 17:40 By QAANITAH HUNTER
SANDF soldiers patrol the streets of Galeshewe in Kimberley, Northern Cape.
SANDF soldiers patrol the streets of Galeshewe in Kimberley, Northern Cape.
Image: Masi Losi

SA National Defence Force soldiers who were patrolling at the ANC January 8 celebrations in Kimberley have been ordered back to their barracks as their deployment was illegal.

The soldiers were spotted patrolling the Galeshewe township in Kimberley on Wednesday where President Cyril Ramaphosa was visiting. 

Only after TimesLIVE sent questions to the SANDF, were the soldiers ordered to return to their barracks.

Soldiers were transported to the Galeshewe Mayibuye centre and later to a local multipurpose centre where Ramaphosa was engaging with the community and later faith-based organisations.

There were more than a dozen soldiers patrolling.

The soldiers were in full camouflage uniform, wearing helmets.

SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said soldiers were told to return to their bases. 

“As far I am aware they were ordered to stay in their bases and not be anywhere else,” he said.

Dlamini said the SAPS were using the barracks in and around Kimberley to house the additional police contingent. 

But Dlamini said the soldiers had no business on the street.

He said there were two main military bases outside Kimberley and one in the city. 

Ramaphosa has been in and around Kimberley since Monday in the run-up to the party’s birthday rally on Saturday. 

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule told the media that the minister of police, Bheki Cele, told the police to allow the president and senior ANC leaders to interact with the community and not restrict community members from sharing their concerns.

Police have been visibly relaxed, allowing Ramaphosa to engage with the community.