Army Commander Says Force Used By Soldiers Was Appropriate
Commander Defence Forces (CDF) General Philip Valerio has said that the force and weapons which were used by the soldiers on August 1 were appropriate.
Sibanda said this when he appeared before the Commission of Inquiry to look into the events of the day which resulted in the deaths of at least 6 people when the soldiers used live bullets to disperse protesters and bystanders in the CBD. The General told the Kgalema Motlanthe led Commission,
Firstly, as soldiers, we operate on orders and the orders given on that day were very clear – you don’t open fire on the rioters. If there is anyone with evidence to the effect that any one of these (killed) six and the injured could have been shot by soldiers, they can bring that forward.
…When we do an estimate of a situation, you look at how best you can deal with the situation in the shortest possible time and in this particular case with minimum force, damage and loss of life. We looked at that and we believed that the force that was eventually deployed by the commander of the National Reaction Force was appropriate and the weaponry was appropriate in the sense that you cannot deploy a soldier without his equipment.
It might not have been appropriate in the sense that they were carrying an AK47 as opposed to maybe a weapon that can take rubber bullets. But otherwise, the force that was used and so on was appropriate in my view because as you notice it was only one and half hours and the city was also back to normal except that there were no people because of what had happened.
Sibanda categorically denied that any of his soldiers had fired into the civilians and said that he actually heard the shots from his office in town before the army was deployed.
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