About 25 000 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members will be deployed to deal with the violence and looting that has gripped KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says the proposal to increase the number will be submitted for approval. Mapisa-Nqakula was briefing Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence on the current situation in the two provinces.

The Minister says President Cyril Ramaphosa initially proposed an increase of the deployment of SANDF members to 10 000 while the opposition parties proposed that the number be increased to 75 000.

“So as things stand now chairperson, – we agreed that ok we don’t have to say 75 000 but we should also not keep at the 10 000 which the President had proposed, that we should rather find a middle way. Because you also don’t want to mobilise for the sake of mobilising because our mobilisation must also be informed by the continuous assessment of the situation on the ground. So we have now submitted a request for deployment of plus-minus 25 000 members. So in other words we are trying to find a middle way between the 75 000 and 10 000 which was proposed by the President,” says the Minister.

Parliamentary reporter Bulelani Philip discusses government’s decision to beef up the army:

Meanwhile, Acting Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, has urged members of the public to remain calm as government is doing all it can to restore peace and normality in the country.

“We are however getting positive reports that the deployment of additional 5000 law enforcement agencies is starting to reap positive results, as we are seeing less incidents of violence and looting reported. Currently, 5000 members of the SANDF have already deployed on the ground. Law enforcement agents assisted by the military are working tirelessly to ensure that the country returns to peace and stability.”

Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni deployment of SANDF and other law enforcement agencies

Panic buying

Ntshavheni, also called on communities not to panic, amid concerns over possible food shortages due to the unrest in the country.

The Acting Minister says that during her visit to different parts of Gauteng, communities have raised concerns about food shortages but says there is no need to worry at this moment.

Ntshavheni says people must avoid panic buying as government is working with the National Consumer Goods Council to ensure there isn’t a dry spell.

“We urge members of the public to remain calm and exercise restraint during these trying times. Government is working with the Consumer Goods Council to ensure food security. If we have members of the public flocking into the shops and malls to buy foodstuff, we are also risking the spread of COVID-19. ”

Meanwhile, Ntshavheni has defended the Cabinet, following accusations that ministers within the Security and Economic clusters have been lying low during recent protests and ongoing looting in the country. Ntshavheni says the reason why ministers visited the different communities was to assess how much damage has been caused in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

“The security cluster had to plan a response and that’s why yesterday they came out and responded. Today the ministers that are on the ground are ministers of the economic cluster and some from the security cluster, but it is the economic cluster that is assessing, the security cluster has to deal with the situation at hand, of making sure that peace and stability are restored in the country.”-Additional reporting Abongile Dumako

Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni briefs the media: