Thandi Modise wants special ‘intermediary force’ to deal with riots
‘You need a force that is between the soldiers and the police, a force that is right to deploy in situations we recently experienced’
Newly appointed defence minister Thandi Modise wants an overhaul of some of the government’s security structures, saying there is a need to institute a special force between the police and the military to respond to challenging situations.
Modise made the proposal while delivering her first address to the National Assembly since her appointment as defence minister during this month’s cabinet reshuffle.
She was speaking during a debate to adopt oversight reports of the police and defence portfolio committees following their visit to Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal to assess the damage caused by the recent violence and looting which resulted in the deaths of more than 300 people and billions in damage.
She told MPs the “intermediary force”, once set up, would be readily available for deployment to situations such as the recent events in Gauteng and KZN.
Modise said it was time to relook at the make up of the country’s security structures.
“We can promise we will try to do our best. We are asking that we also take time to relook at the structures. At some point we wanted to suggest to this parliament that you need an intermediary force — a force that is between the soldiers and the police, a force that is just right to deploy in situations we have just experienced,” she said.
“It would not be a unique force. France has a force like that.”
Modise said she wanted to resuscitate struggling state-owned arms makers Denel and Armscor. Denel, in particular, is in financial ruin and unable to pay salaries.
She said failure to revive the two state-owned enterprises would result in serious capacity challenges for the military.
“In that regard, I want to have a discussion around using what we have, relooking at the Armscor and Denel capacities, resuscitating those, because without these tools we are going to be incapacitated. We are going to be caught flat-footed.”
The capacity of the military has declined over 20 years, which resulted in them being “caught off guard”, she said.
“I am not excusing the fact that defence intelligence could have played a role to advise. I am in no way saying the ministers knew or did not know, I was not there, but what I do know is that the security cluster must always be on top of their games to make sure we do not get these stones that are coming into the cluster, that we do what we need to do, not to deploy police and soldiers but to protect the lives and property of South Africans.”
Modise lauded young people in several townships who spoke out and acted against rioting and looting last month.