What you need to know about Operation Prosper

13 August 2021 11:00

SANDF members have been issued with a Code of Conduct following the announcement of Operation Prosper - a joint operation between SAPS and the SANDF to prevent a further flare up of the violence, looting and destruction that took place in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July.  

Initially some 2 500 members will be deployed from 12 July to 12 October 2021.[1] They have been issued with a mission specific Code of Conduct[2] in terms of section 19 of the Defence Act, No. 42 of 2002[3].

Members of the public are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the information below to understand the responsibilities of the SANDF as well as their own rights and obligations in support of the implementation of this operation.

Under the code, SANDF members have the same powers and authority as the SAPS (section 20 of the Defence Act), excluding the investigation of crime. Notwithstanding this, SANDF members may perform tasks and duties for which they are adequately trained and equipped.  Any material deviations from the Guidelines must be approved by the Chief of Joint Operations. Tactical commanders are allowed to issue specific guidelines/instructions/orders for their specific areas of responsibility in line with these Guidelines.

When combatting crime, and maintaining law and order in a declared hotspot SANDF members are restricted to:

  • Roadblocks and Vehicle Control Points (VCPs)
  • Patrols
  • Preserving life and protecting property
  • Protection of national key points
  • Ensuring freedom of movement of own forces
  • Cordon and searches
  • Firefighting
  • Airborne command and control
  • Trooping
  • Road clearance
  • Escort duties
  • Air transportation of SAPS
  • Casevac

Careful procedures for the following situations when protecting life and property have been prescribed for SANDF members.

a. Road blockages/Public Unrest and/or Looting

  1. Protect the SAPS while they manage the situation.
  2. Assist the SAPS to remove blockages only when it is safe to do so.
  3. Where possible, record events either in writing or by means of video/audio recordings.
  4. Do not fire warning shots.
  5. Exercise personal restraint and do not assault members of the public.
  6. Use less than lethal ammunition where possible.

b. Roadblocks, Vehicle Control Points (VCPs) and Cordons

  1. SAPS are responsible for establishing roadblocks/VCPs and cordons.
  2. Protect the SAPS while they conduct the operation.
  3. Positioning of early warning groups.
  4. Provision of guarding duties to the SAPS in the event of arrested persons.

c. Provocation/Insults and Disrespect

  1. Exercise a high tolerance level to provocation/insults and/or disrespect aimed at you or SAPS members.
  2. Warn civilians to cease with such behaviour.
  3. Do not assault civilians.
  4. Do not run away when attacked by civilians.
  • SANDF members must always treat the public with respect and human dignity and exercise a high level of tolerance and restraint. They must not use foul language when communicating with the media or civilians.
  • They have an inherent right to self-defence when defending themselves, other members, equipment, property 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.
  • Incidents of live firing must be reported and recorded within reasonable time, the report to include the place, how many rounds were fired and the outcome of the action in self-defence.
  • The firing of warning shots is prohibited.
  • The principle of minimum force should always be applied, whilst keeping in mind that minimum force will depend on the weapon issued to the deployed forces.
  • All incidents must be reported as soon as possible to the relevant authority via the normal chain of command.
  • Mission objectives must be kept in mind when determining the amount of force that would be required to ensure a successful mission.
  • Best practice Covid-19 containment measures have also been laid down.

[1] Defence Act: Government Gazette Notice No. 612 of 12 July 2021 https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/202107/44841gon612.pdf

[2] Defence Act: Government Gazette Notice No. 613 of 14 July 2021 https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/202107/44849gon613.pdf

[3] Section 19: Powers and duties of members while being employed http://www.dod.mil.za/document/LegislationNav/Legislation/Defence%20Act%2042%20of%202002.pdf