While the jury is still out on the possible deployment of soldiers to assist Western Cape police fight crime, indications are soldiers will be used to protect the water resource in Cape Town.
This in is the light of the extended drought that has seen water levels drop dangerously low and the implementation of harsh restrictions on the use of water by Cape Town residents, businesses and industrialists.
The army is ready to deploy soldiers to protect water sources, water-carrying trucks and collection point The Argus reported at the weekend adding “part of the army’s contingency plan includes going off the water grid by drilling boreholes in the province”.
Expectations are that residents of Cape Town and surrounds will, in the not too distant future, be queueing up with containers to collect a daily allocation of water “under the eye of soldiers and other law enforcement agencies”.
Colonel Keith Aarons, Officer Commanding Western Cape Joint Tactical HQ, and Lieutenant Colonel Adriaan Lotriet, Staff Officer Operations, said the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) role in the water crisis was clear.
“From our side the plan is there.”
Aarons said they had numerous meetings with the city and provincial and national departments to discuss the crisis.
He said the SANDF’s primary task was to ensure the military should be self-reliant if the taps run dry.
“Firstly we have to provide for ourselves and then support the city and provincial disaster management systems. We first look at our own resilience. How can we get off bulk infrastructure by harvesting and re-use?
“We have to look at augmentation with drilling of boreholes and desalination. We are busy with that assessment to see which areas the SA Army Engineer Formation can provide the resilience to our own members. We need to do this for self-sustainment.
“If things get worse, how will we operate if we don’t have water?”
Aarons said the plan was for the military in Cape Town to be off grid by December.
The army’s contingency plan includes protecting water routes, storage and collection points, escort duties and providing a limited supply of tankers.
According to the newspaper he said soldiers were ready to provide assistance to police in general crime prevention.
Both Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Defence and Military Veterans Minister, and her police counterpart, Fikile Mbalula, have in recent weeks spoken about the possibility of soldiers being deployed to assist police in fighting crime in Western Cape and Gauteng. At the time of publication there was no indication from the Presidency of a request to deploy soldiers in crime combatting.