The DA says it’s written to President Jacob Zuma demanding answers on soldiers still assisting in operations.150521Fiela-jpgCAPE TOWN – The Democratic Alliance (DA) says the unexplained deployment of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers to crime operations could set a wrong precedent.

The official opposition party says it’s written to President Jacob Zuma demanding answers but has yet to receive a response.

In April, following a spate of attacks on foreign nationals, Zuma authorised the assignment of about 338 soldiers to Operation Fiela.

These soldiers are still assisting in operations in some parts of the country despite their placement lapsing last month.

DA Member of Parliament Kobus Marais said, “It’s going to set one incredibly wrong precedent if we are going to use the SANDF to do the work of the police service.”

He says Zuma must provide reasons for the extended deployment.

“For whatever the reason might be; what will justify it the next time around? Is it unacceptable especially with the important elections next year.”

On Friday, photographs apparently showing the SANDF members assisting police during a crime blitz in Cape Town raised questions about who authorised troops’ involvement.

But government officials have been unclear about whether or not the president extended troops’ deployment.

If Zuma gave the green light he has to inform Parliament.

Defence department spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini has explained police requested an extension until March next year

“The request has to be made, considered and then the Parliament is informed. That is the process.”

He said the request is being considered.

Meanwhile, the Right 2 Know Campaign raised concerns about transparency regarding SANDF members’ involvement in Operation Fiela.

Right 2 Know’s Murray Hunter said the president has to explain.

“We have a situation where people are denying that there is a deployment of troops but we are seeing the troops in our communities. That either means there has been an extension and it hasn’t been transparent or it means there has been no deployment and the troops are there illegally.”

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