Exercise personal restraint: South African govt to troops deployed to quell looting, arson

Johannesburg, July 18

The South African government has urged the army not to fire warning shots, exercise personal restraint and use less than lethal ammunition whenever possible, as it dispatched 25,000 soldiers to conflict areas over the weekend to help local police curb widespread looting and violence to support the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma.

The Soldier’s Code of Conduct is contained in a government gazette issued by the Department of Defense and Military Veterans after the South African Defense Force (SADF) was mobilized to assist members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) who were the Rioting mobs who caused billions in damage in weeks of looting and arson.

“The maintenance and enforcement of the law within the republic remains the main responsibility of the SAPS,” says the document.

The document, known as Operation PROSPER, emphasizes that SANDF’s cooperation with the police is limited to protecting lives and property in crime-fighting operations.

Protests that began after Zuma’s detention on July 7th quickly turned violent, with malls and warehouses looted and set on fire by rioters.

Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison by the country’s highest court for disregarding the court after repeatedly refusing to testify before the State Detention Commission, where several witnesses involved him in corruption.

The document also states that, whenever possible, troops are required to record events either in writing or by video / audio recordings and not use swear words when communicating with the media or civilians.

“Have a high level of tolerance towards provocation / insults and / or disrespect towards you or SAPS members; Warn civilians to stop such behavior; do not attack civilians or run away when attacked by civilians, ”it said.

“When the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) is used in conjunction with the SAPS, SANDF members have the same powers and authority as the SAPS, with the exception of criminal investigations. Regardless, SANDF members can perform duties and responsibilities for which they are appropriately trained and equipped, ”the document states.

However, these rules did not prevent soldiers from exercising their right to self-defense.

“This right of self-defense can be exercised to defend yourself, other members, First Mission equipment, property, SAPS members and all members of the public when life is threatened and / or when there is serious injury or destruction to persons there is an immediate threat of property, ”the document says.

The document is seen as a warning by analysts after a series of complaints about clumsiness and mistreatment of civilians by SANDF members who were deployed in the first phase of the Covid phase to enforce the country’s full lockdown. 19 pandemic last year.

In order to avoid a similar situation, SANDF members were told to apply the principle of minimal force depending on the weapon they were issued with, experts say.

Relative calm was restored across the country after troops moved in to quell widespread unrest. PTI