SA borderline defence goes 'backwards'

DEFENCE Minister Lindiwe Sisulu should reject the "hopelessly inadequate" proposal for the defence force to take over the borderline security function, the DA said on Sunday.

DEFENCE Minister Lindiwe Sisulu should reject the "hopelessly inadequate" proposal for the defence force to take over the borderline security function, the DA said on Sunday.

"If the proposal is implemented there might be fewer members of security services patrolling our borders," party spokesperson David Maynier said.

He said South African borders could be less secured, not more, in the 2010-11 financial year if the proposal is implemented.

"This raises serious doubts about the proper protection of our borders during the Fifa World Cup tournament," Maynier said.

A decision was taken by the cabinet last year that the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) would take over responsibility for borderline security from the SA Police Service. Last week the portfolio committee on defence received a briefing by members of the SANDF on "Operation Corona", the proposal to redeploy the military on our landward borders in phases between 2010 and 2014, Maynier said.

"If the proposal is approved, the defence force will from April 1 begin deploying about 540 soldiers on the South Africa-Zimbabwe and South Africa-Mozambique borders.

"These numbers are hopelessly inadequate to secure landward borders," Maynier said.

He said according to the proposal the defence force would spend only R135 million this year on borderline security, while the police spent R225 million in 2009.

"Also, the South Africa-Namibia, South Africa-Botswana and South Africa-Lesotho borders will not be protected. This is clearly a step backwards," he said.

"There will be approximately 3240 less soldiers patrolling our borders in 2010 than there were in 1994," Maynier said. - Sapa

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