The Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans has published a code of conduct for South Africa’s armed forces to adhere to during their mission to support the police in quelling riots around the country.
“Upholding and enforcement of the law within the Republic remains the primary responsibility of the South African Police Service (SAPS),” the document stated.
“When the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is employed in cooperation with the SAPS, SANDF members have the same powers and authority as the SAPS, excluding the
investigation of crime.
“Notwithstanding this, SANDF members may perform tasks and duties they are adequately trained and equipped for.”
Dubbed Operation PROSPER, the document stated that the SANDF’s cooperation with the police is limited to protecting life and property during crime combating operations.
The document reinforced that SANDF members have an inherent right to self-defence.
“This right to self-defence may be exercised to defend oneself, other members, prime mission equipment, property, SAPS members and any member of the public where life is threatened and/or where there is an imminent threat of serious injury or destruction of property,” it stated.
Where there has been a live firing incident, it must be reported and recorded within a reasonable time.
The report must include the place, how many rounds were fired, and the outcome of the action in self-defence.
Firing warning shots is prohibited.
“The principal of minimum force should always be applied, whilst keeping in mind that minimum force will depend on the weapon issued to the deployed forces,” stated the document.
Among the other standard operating procedures given to troops was that they are not permitted to make any unauthorised statements to the public or media.
They may also not use foul language when communicating with the media or civilians.
The procedures contained in the document are summarised below.
Road blockages/Public Unrest and/or Looting
- Protect the SAPS while they manage the situation.
- Assist the SAPS to remove blockages only when it is safe to do so.
- Where possible, record events either in writing or by means of video/audio recordings.
- Do not fire warning shots.
- Exercise personal restraint and do not assault members of the public.
- Use less than lethal ammunition where possible.
Roadblocks, Vehicle Control Points (VCPs) and Cordons
- SAPS are responsible for establishing roadblocks/VCPs and cordons.
- Protect the SAPS while they conduct the operation.
- Positioning of early warning groups.
- Provision of guarding duties to the SAPS in the event of arrested persons.
Provocation/Insults and Disrespect
- Exercise a high tolerance level to provocation/insults and/or disrespect aimed at you or SAPS members.
- Warn civilians to cease with such behaviour.
- Do not assault civilians.
- Do not run away when attacked by civilians.