President requested deployment of SANDF during July unrest: Mapisa-Nqakula

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President Cyril Ramaphosa had requested for the deployment of the Defence Force on the 11th of July before such a request was received from the police.

This has been the evidence of the then Minister of Defence, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, at the Human Rights Commission investigation into the widespread unrest.

Mapisa-Nqakula has outlined to the commission the process which is normally followed to authorise the deployment of the Defence Force to support the police.

SAHRC hearing into July unrest:

Mapisa-Nqakula says normally the Defence Force would receive a request from the police. She says in this case the request from the President came before such a request was made by the police.

“In this instance, I am saying the 11th of July. The President called me, President is asking for the deployment of the SANDF, by then there is no request which has come from the police. So when I receive this instruction from the commander in chief I then picked up the phone and spoke to the Minister of Police and I said, this is the wish of the commander in chief and at that point, the minister says I actually think it about time, so I say well, put it in writing.”

Meanwhile, Mapisa-Nqakula explained the initial assessment of the heads of the police and Defence Force shortly after the outbreak of the unrest.

She said that the police would have been able to cope with the situation. At that point after the request by President Ramaphosa on the 11th of July – the Defence was only tasked to guard national key points.

Mapisa-Nqakula has explained how the number of troops to be deployed escalated to 25 000 over the next 3 days.

Over 350 people died during the civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Last week, the first witness at the National Hearings into the July unrest, Zama Nguse from one of the informal settlements in Pietermaritzburg, told the hearing how her nephew Sbahle Nguse was killed during the unrest.

Nguse recalled events on how businesspeople in Durban allegedly set their shacks alight and shot other people accusing them of looting and burning their businesses.

She said while they were running to the house, they heard gunshots only to be told later that her nephew had been shot.