On 4 January 2022, the President notified the Speaker of the National Assembly of the employment of 2,700 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in support of the South African Police Service (SAPS) as part of Operation Prosper.
The President’s letter notes that the employment was effective from 18 December 2021 and will last until 18 March 2022, with an expected cost of R233,296,240. The SANDF members will be employed across all nine provinces, “for the prevention and combatting of crime and preservation of law and order.”
The President authorised this employment in terms of section 201(2)a of the Constitution of South Africa, and section 19 of the Defence Act
Section 201(2) of the Constitution provides that the President
“may authorise the employment of the defence force:
(a) in cooperation with the police service;
(b) in defence of the Republic; or
(c) in fulfilment of an international obligation.”
In doing so, section 201(3) of the Constitution requires the President to inform Parliament promptly of the reasons for the employment, where the employment will take place, how many personnel are involved, and the expected duration.
Section 19 of the Defence Act specifies that the Minister of Defence should also give public notice of such a decision in the Government Gazette, and provides that any SANDF employment in support of policing operations must be governed by a code of conduct.
Recent previous employments of SANDF members in support of policing as part of Operation Prosper include a five-day employment of 10,000 SANDF members in October 2021 in the lead-up to South Africa’s local government elections. There was a previous employment of up to 25,000 SANDF members in July 2021 to support policing operations in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, following civil unrest.
- The President’s letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly is available here.
- The Constitution of South Africa is available here.
- The Defence Act is available here.
Please note: The information contained in this note is for general guidance on matters of interest, and does not constitute legal advice. For any enquiries, please contact us at [email protected].