Army deployment at SABC a routine check or intelligence tip-off – analyst
By Tarryn-Leigh Solomons
Defence analyst Helmoed Heitman says the deployment of the SANDF to SABC offices is of no significance unless the Presidency has been informed of an insurrection.
The deployments, however, have only been made to the Auckland Park and KwaZulu-Natal offices, not to those in Cape Town and Gqeberha.
The public broadcaster said on Saturday that the army’s deployment was in light of the unrest in KZN and Gauteng in July.
SABC spokesperson Gugu Ntuli has since dismissed what she termed as misleading and malicious allegations that there was an ulterior motive for the presence of SANDF members on its premises.
“I think this is probably just precautionary in case people want to cause trouble in the country again. In history, the first thing that’s always done when staging a coup is concerned is an attack on the broadcasting centres. Protecting the SABC buildings is probably part of a standard roll-out plan because when there is unrest in an area, you automatically do that,” said Heitman.
He added: “There are contingency plans. When there’s unrest, there’s a list of things or buildings which need to be protected. I don’t think there is anything sinister. However, it is possible that they have intelligence that someone plans to occupy the buildings, but more likely it is just a routine of what they do in these situations.”
In a statement, Ntuli said as a national key point area, delivering an essential service to the nation, and considering the recent attacks on SABC journalists, it was deemed necessary that the physical premises and the employees working in these offices be protected.
“In the exercise of their responsibilities, the members of the SANDF engage with the SABC’s internal security to familiarise themselves with some internal security processes and national key point activities, including News. At no point in time has and will the SANDF impact or get involved with operational matters of the SABC.
“While the SABC has no evidence that any SANDF personnel were in the newsroom, the public broadcaster would like to make it clear that any presence by SANDF personnel in the newsroom would be unacceptable and not in line with the SABC’s public mandate and editorial policies,” Ntuli said. Political Bureau