Parliament, Tuesday, 14 April 2020 – The Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans fully support the regulations issued in terms of the National Disaster Act, (2002), and welcomes the employment of the South African Defence Force (SANDF) to work in a supportive and corporative role with the South African Police Services (Saps), as per its constitutional obligations.
This is so that the SANDF can bolster the Saps in its operational capabilities by carrying out the following tasks:
- Provision of cordons for Saps operations.
- Assistance with Saps roadblocks
- Armed support (back-up) for Saps raids
- Air support (helicopter and spotter planes) through the SA Air Force
- Medical facilities and back-up assistance for the SA Navy for maritime operations where required.
The committee supports this mandate in pursuit of curbing the spread of Covid-19 to save lives, and applauds the law enforcement personnel who have complied with the letter and spirit of the regulations, as declared by the President.
Notwithstanding these noble intentions and efforts, it is disheartening to note in the past few days, various complaints, mostly from the media and ordinary citizens, exposing excessive use of force that undermines the dignity of citizens during the lockdown.
The committee is grateful to both the media and citizens for exposing these deplorable acts. Chairperson of the committee Mr Cyril Xaba said: “We appeal to those members of the SANDF responsible for these acts to conduct themselves in a manner befitting their stature and consistent with their constitutional obligations to defend and protect the Republic and its people in accordance with the constitution, and the principles of international law regulating the use of force.”
"We further call on citizens to co-operate with the law enforcement agencies deployed in pursuit of their mandate. We believe that the power vested in the defence force and the police services creates a contractual relationship between them and the people, which should not be abused,” Mr Xaba said.
The committee believes that at this critical time we should guard against the escalation of hostilities between citizens and law enforcement agencies, exercise maximum restraint, and strengthen public confidence in the abilities of these agencies to protect and defend the people.
The committee is mindful of difficulties in the maintenance of peace and stability in a multi-cultural and diverse society such as ours, especially under the conditions of a lockdown. Citizens are called upon respect lockdown regulations, not to resist arrest when breaches have been committed, and to report civil rights violations to the authorities.
“Let us all act responsibly,” said Mr Xaba. He further expresses the committee’s immense appreciation for the work and sacrifices by members of the SANDF, and the members of the Reserve Force who have made themselves available to contribute to the very crucial call from the President.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS, MR CYRIL XABA
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