President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to certain parts of the Western Cape.

He reacted to the Congress of the People (COPE) leader, Mosiuoa Lekota’s criticism during the debate of the Presidency’s budget vote that the presence of the army in communities had led to the killing of many innocent people in the past.

Soldiers arrived in Manenberg on the Cape Flats on Thursday, a week after Police Minister Bheki Cele announced that the SANDF will be deployed in the area to help combat rampant gang related crime.

Ramaphosa told Parliament on Thursday that the army is capable of performing peace keeping operations.

He says, “It’s not the defence force of old. The defence force of old was the one that went into township that used people as targets for shooting. This is the defence force of the Democratic South Africa, been involved in many peace keeping operations in various parts of the continent.”

Meanwhile, following the first day of the army being deployed to two gang affected areas on the Cape Flats on Thursday,  little official confirmation from the police or the National Defence Force has been forthcoming.

On Thursday afternoon to the surprise of many who have been affected gang violence on the Cape Flats , armoured vehicles transporting soldiers made their way into Manenberg and Hanover Park.

These are but two areas in which gang violence and violent crimes have gripped the communities.

More than a week ago after on-going and escalating violence on the Cape Flats Cele announced that the army would be deployed within 12 hours following his announcement. However no soldiers were seen on the ground.

However, exactly a week later, soldiers were deployed and have been assisting a heavy police presence who conducted raids in Manenberg and Hanover Park.

The move has been welcomed by some in fearful communities who say there’s a sense of relief having additional security in their areas. Additional reporting by Carmel Loggenberg-Roberts