Defence force will only be used in event of a calamity at SONA: Mapisa-Nqakula
TMG Digital | 2017-02-08 14:59:00.0
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. File photo
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Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says the defence force will only be used in the event of a “calamity” at the State of the Nation address on Thursday.
President Jacob Zuma is facing a backlash from critics for authorising the deployment of 441 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to Parliament.
He is expected to face stiff opposition from political rivals ahead of his address to the nation and there is speculation about potential protests around the parliamentary precinct.
Mapisa-Nqakula used SABC television news as a platform to give an “exclusive” interview on Wednesday‚ explaining the deployment of troops.
At pains to stress that the proper protocols had been followed‚ she said: “I want to assure South Africans‚ here there is no abuse of state power.”
Defence Force members were deployed internally at the request of the minister of police – after a security threat assessment.
“It would be that there is a security assessment that has been conducted by both the police and state security and that the outcome of that assessment makes a determination as the kind of forces you need.”
Soldiers would not be stationed at parliament‚ she said‚ but instead be assembled somewhere nearby “on stand-by in the event a calamity would occur”.
Only if police could not cope with a situation‚ would the defence force be called in‚ she added.
News24 reported on Wednesday that intelligence operatives had been tipped off about a possible “massive uprising” that would target the State of the Nation address.