Cape Town – Opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has lashed out at the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), following a statement calling him out for spreading “fake news”.
It all started after Malema, over the weekend, posted a tweet suggesting that soldiers who were deployed to hot spot areas following last month’s violence and looting in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, were threatening to withdraw from the operation.
The unrest was sparked by the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma.
President Cyril Ramaphosa last week extended the deployment of the military personnel to help police fight crime and maintain law and order in the country until September 13.
“The army is threatening to withdraw,” tweeted Malema.
The army is threatening to withdraw!🤷🏽♂️ pic.twitter.com/lBSk0pzBi5
— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) August 22, 2021
His tweet was accompanied by a screenshot of a message that was purportedly from a soldier who was complaining about food allowances not being availed to them as promised by the government.
The message, which, however, didn’t say anything about the soldiers threatening to withdraw read: “Afternoon Mr Malema, please help us, we are soldiers deployed in KwaZulu-Natal. We are suffering from the SANDF. There is no food for us, since last week we are buying food for us from our own salary. [The] army [has not] provided [food] us since last week. They promise[d] us meal allowance, [but] even now [there is] no meal allowance. Please help us, you are our last hope. If we ask them, they victimised us. Please sir, help us. I cannot name myself, but I’m a concerned soldier.”
In a statement on Monday, the SANDF, dismissed Malema’s claims as “fake news”.
Without mentioning Malema, SANDF said it was “highly concerned by ill-intended social media comments about the alleged withdrawal of soldiers from Operation Prosper.
“The SANDF dismisses without contempt and scoffs at the baseless insinuations aimed at causing panic in the country. Perpetrators of these insinuations are reminded that it is an illegal and prosecutable offence to spread fake news or misinformation.
The SANDF, however, acknowledged there had been challenges regarding ration packs and payment of meal allowances but maintained that the issues had since been resolved.
“The SANDF acknowledges that there were challenges regarding ration packs and payment of meal allowances. These challenges received the necessary attention. As a measure to address developing challenges, there are processes in place to prioritise and address challenges as and when they prevail. This is an ongoing process for the duration of the operation. It is outright disingenous to suggest or to insinuate that soldiers are starving and are considering withdrawing from the operation.”
In response, Malema tweeted, telling the SANDF to “bring it on”, as he was not “scared”.
“Rubbish, try me bloody fools. Bring it on, I’m not scared of rubbish,” he wrote.
Rubbish, try me bloody fools. Bring it on, I’m not scared of rubbish.
— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) August 24, 2021
His deputy Floyd Shivambu also joined in, saying: “Unfortunately you can’t prosecute anyone because now one spread fake news or misinformation about you. The reality and indisputable fact is that you can’t feed your soldiers and ground forces. What kind of a so called army are who can’t give food to soldiers? Disgrace!”
Unfortunately you can’t prosecute anyone because now one spread fake news or misinformation about you. The reality and indisputable fact is that you can’t feed your soldiers and ground forces. What kind of a so called army are who can’t give food to soldiers? Disgrace! https://t.co/RlUVJeRwSJ
— Floyd Shivambu (@FloydShivambu) August 23, 2021
Malema was set to address the media on Wednesday.
Picture: Getty Images
Compiled by Betha Madhomu