Police Minister Bheki Cele should not have announced when the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was coming in to support the South African Police Services (SAPS) in the gang-infested areas of Cape Town. 

According to Netwerk24, this was the sentiment of SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi, who told the Afrikaans online publication that the announcement took away the element of surprise. 

“We can’t make every movement known. This is firstly a raid and an issue of security. Every step and the exact moment the army will be on the ground can’t be made known,” he told Netwerk24. 

Earlier, Mgobozi told News24 that the troops were receiving “mission readiness training” ahead of their deployment.

Some of the troops that will be deployed in the province arrived in Cape Town on Friday.

The training includes a briefing on the areas in which the troops will be active. Mgobozi added that the preparation was necessary to ensure troops were ready before they headed into Cape Town’s crime-ridden suburbs. 

Mission readiness training also included the objectives of the mission, expectations of troop conduct and preparation for engagement with the public, added Department of Defence and Military Veterans spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini.

The 10 Cape Town precincts identified for support by the SANDF are Bishop Lavis, Mitchells Plain, Delft, Elsies River, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Mfuleni, Philippi, Kraaifontein and Manenberg.

As the SANDF awaits its “deployment papers” so that everything is legally above board, the SAPS has been meeting in Paarl at a provincial crime summit.

An official attending the meeting told New24 that engagements at the summit, which ends on Sunday, had been positive.

“The engagements are good and the mood is positive from all sectors who are in attendance,” said the official, adding that the resolutions on a way forward would be finalised and a media briefing would be held on Sunday.

On the deployment of soldiers into the gang-ridden areas, the official said more SANDF members were still arriving and would go through their mission readiness training ahead of their deployment.

Cele is expected return to Philipi East and surrounding areas on Sunday.

“The visit will be to engage with the community during a walkabout to get feedback on the recent deployments in the areas, post the tabling of the Department of Police and IPID budget vote speech and announcement of the deployment of the South African National Defence Force and SAPS Specialised Units to volatile and gang infested areas,” Naidoo said. 

Cele announced on Thursday in his budget speech that President Cyril Ramaphosa had given the go-ahead for soldiers to enter the identified areas of the Cape Flats.

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