Soldiers patrol Cape Town streets
17 January 2012 1 Comment
Pierre de Vos: Why are soldiers patrolling the streets of Cape Town? Are we at war with our own citizens?
Jan 16 2012 – CAPE TOWN Pierre de Vos of ‘Constitutionally Speaking’ writes: “I was rather startled when I opened my newspaper this morning and spotted a picture of soldiers with automatic weapons and wearing what looked like full combat gear, parading outside the Khayelitsha District Hospital. For a moment I thought I was back in 1988 and “Boetie” had gone back into the township.
De Vos: “”The newspaper informs me that soldiers were called in to help control a crowd of protestors outside the hospital. The contingent of soldiers told the Cape Times that they had been diverted to the hospital after being on a routine patrol in the area with the SA Police Services. But why were soldiers patrolling the streets of Cape Town with members of the Police Service (remember, the Constitution talks about a Police Service, not a Police Force)? Can this be legal?
Section 200(2) of the Constitution confirms that the Defence Force should not normally be employed inside South Africa, stating that:
— The primary object of the defence force is to defend and protect the Republic, its territorial integrity and its people in accordance with the Constitution and the principles of international law regulating the use of force.
— Section 201(2) of the Constitution provides for an exception to this rule, stating that the President, as head of the national executive, may authorise the employment of the defence force in co-operation with the Police Service or in defence of the Republic.
— Section 201(3) then states that when the defence force is employed with the Police Service, the President must inform Parliament, promptly and in appropriate detail, of the reasons for the employment of the defence force; any place where the force is being employed; the number of people involved; and the period for which the force is expected to be employed.
— If Parliament does not sit during the first seven days after the defence force is employed as envisaged, the President must provide the information to the appropriate oversight committee.
— In the context of section 200 and 201 it is clear that the Constitution does not allow the employment of the Defence Force inside South Africa in circumstances other than in co-operation with the Police Service. There are good reasons for this…