CAPE TOWN — South Africa’s Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Wednesday said the government plans to deploy about 25,000 soldiers to deal with the ongoing unrest in the country.
“We have now submitted, now now, a request for deployment of plus-minus 25,000 members,” Mapisa-Nqakula virtually briefed the Joint Standing Committee on Defence of the Parliament, which is a significant increase from the initially proposed 2,500 members and then 10,000 members.
“We will start with the 25,000,” she said, adding that currently there are no less than 1,000 members in KwaZulu-Natal Province, where the unrest started, including 800 in the port city Durban.
The government is also trying to ensure the military visibility of vehicles and helicopter patrols, she added.
The minister also said she will leave for KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday morning and to be on the ground.
The ongoing unrest mainly in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces in the country’s eastern part, triggered by the imprisonment of former South African president Jacob Zuma, has claimed at least 26 lives in KwaZulu-Natal alone.
Hundreds of shops and businesses were looted during the initially political motivated protest, with roads being blocked, properties and vehicles damaged and burned.
Zuma, who was sentenced to 15 months in prison after being convicted of defying the Constitutional Court’s order which compelled him to appear and give evidence at the State Capture Commission in February, has challenged the sentence.
A judgment is expected to be announced on a later date.