SANDF to send soldiers to riot hotspots in KZN, Gauteng

The South African National Defence Force will be sending soldiers into the streets that have seen anarchy over the weekend after riots.

People fleeing as police use water cannons and rubber bullets to disperse them from the streets of Hillbrow, in what was believed to be a #FreeZuma protest on 11 July 2021. Picture: Boikhutso  Ntsoko/ Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on Monday confirmed that it had started preparing for soldier deployment to help police in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal deal with riots.

In a statement, the SANDF said it was responding to a request from the South African Police Service's National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure.

It said the deployment would begin as soon as preparations were complete and its mandate was strictly to help keep police safe as they carried out their duties.

"It must be emphasised that the SANDF`s deployment objective is to provide safety and a safe working environment for members of the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies whilst they carry out their constitutionally mandated law and order duties. SANDF deployment-related information updates will follow in due course," the SANDF said in the statement.

The exact number of soldiers who will be deployed has not been announced yet, which the SANDF said would be released after law enforcement agencies like SAPS and other police have done an assessment of the situation.

WATCH: JHB riots continue after President Ramaphosa's evening address

Meanwhile, police confirmed on Monday that a total of six people have been killed while more than 200 others have been arrested for the public unrest in Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng.

What initially started as protests by some calling for the release of former President Jacob Zuma from prison in Kwazulu-Natal on Friday spilled over to parts of Gauteng over the weekend.

ALSO READ: Second person killed as violent protests continue in Gauteng

On Sunday night. the SAPS released a statement saying it was trying to get under control parts of the country that had seen anarchy over the weekend.

"The SAPS in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, working closely with their respective local Metro Police Departments, have heightened visibility and remain on high alert in response to incidents of opportunistic criminality and violent protests in the two provinces over the weekend," is said through the statement.

CAPE TOWN MALL TAKES PRECATIONS

There have been no reports of riots in the Western Cape but at least one mall has opted to close down.

The City of Cape Town's JP Smith explains: "Vangate Mall has been closed. No incidences of looting have occurred, the mall management has made a proactive decision to close the mall as a safety precaution."

DRIVEN BY HUNGER & STARVATION

As the riots persist, there are differing views on the cause of them.

Initially, supporters of former President Jacob Zuma were blamed and overnight the President Cyril Ramaphosa referenced signs of an ethnically-driven action.

But Isobel Frye, of the Studies In Poverty And Inequality Institute, said that it was much more basic than that linked to hunger and desperation.

"What we've seen from our research, is that there are numbers of people who are facing hunger and starvation. Throughout the COVID-19 response time, we've been feeding budget information, indicating the levels of desperation and starvation, and we've received very little if any response."

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