The army is being used to fight Cape Town’s gangs. Why it’s a bad idea

This is very different from the law and order duties of the police. The
principle of minimum force is alien to a soldier. As the chief of South
African National Defence Force General Solly Shoke, recently stated, the
army is trained to “skiet and donner” (“shoot and beat up”), The South
African government appears to have had little choice but to use the military
as the country’s police have been unable to protect citizens against violent
crime. A staggering 43 people were killed in Cape Town Deploying soldiers

may be effective in suppressing violence. Nevertheless, studies show that
using the military in an internal role can exacerbate conflict,
Soldiers are trained to kill
Military training and culture instils in soldiers a particular disposition
which shapes and guides their actions and behaviour. Aggressiveness and
an ability enables soldiers to deal with life-or-death situations and perform
acts that are otherwise considered abhorrent in civilian society.
Nor can the military identity of a soldier – who carries a machine gun
rather than a pistol – be switched off by merely placing them in policing
roles, without some degree of re-socialisation and training. The deployment
of the military, announced by Police Minister Bheki Cele last Thursday,The
soldiers need to receive proper training on police rules and conduct before
they can be deployed. Without this they wouldn’t know how to react when
confronted with heavily armed gang members.
The soldiers will be under the crime fighting operation. But differences in
organisational cultures, procedure and equipment, could prove to be highly
problematic. In addition, unlike the police, the military is typically
unfamiliar with the terrain, street conditions, public attitudes and reactions
of civilians.
Whether or not the deployment succeeds will depend on the conduct of the
military, their methods of coercion and whether they act in an impartial
and professional manner. The rules of engagement need to be very clear to
ensure that they do not use excessive force, or violate the human rights of
citizens.
Parameters must be set to ensure that the use of force is proportional to the
threat posed to contain a situation. Force should only be used when all
other means have failed, and where there is evidence of hostile intent. And,
such use of force should be of limited duration, and only employed as a
protective measure.
Threat of militarisation
The last thing the country can afford is a return to what happened during
the apartheid era, when citizens were at the mercy of the state security
forces, with hardly any There are also wider social ramifications. On the
one hand, failure to intervene by the state may result in citizens forming
their own armed groups that offer them Any increase in vigilantism has the

potential to further escalate violence, as citizens come toOn the other hand,
further calls to deploy the military throughout the country could foster a
culture of militarism. This, in turn, could be linked to broader social
processes of militarisation within society at the economic,On the economic
level, militarisation is associated with the increased spending on defence.
At the political level, the involvement of the army in law and order duties
can result in them being afforded Ideologically, this can an already
established culture of violence as an effective means of achieving objectives.
Where there is a culture of resorting to the use of force to restore peace and
security, it undermines the need to seek other alternatives. Nor does it
address the underlying causes of conflict, which ultimately results in the
military being deployed for prolonged periods, or even permanently, to
prevent the return to violence.

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