Their battle honours stretch back over a century, but on this night the Rand Light Infantry were on a different mission.
Rioting had broken out in the informal settlement of Kya Sands to the north west of Johannesburg. Foreigners had had the doors of their shacks kicked in and their belongings looted.
It was time to bring in the army.
The Rand Light Infantry (RLI) arrived in Kevlar body armour with R4 semi automatic rifles.
Their job was to enforce a 10pm curfew. By 8pm
they were telling people to go to sleep.
“Go to bed on the double,” barked one private.
Generators had to be switched off.
“Mama you have to put out that fire now, and you have to go to bed,” said another.
As the RLI patrolled through the shanty town, a police helicopter circled above, its search light flitting and blinking on the corrugated iron roofs.
The soldiers walked past shacks and the occupants inside sniggered like naughty children.
“Hey you in there, go to sleep and keep your boots on.”
The rest of the patrol laughed.
“Yea, and no hanky panky in there, go to sleep,” added another soldier.
This was a night for wise cracks
In the Night Fever Nite club five patrons were searched. They are lined up on the ground and frisked by a policeman. The policeman finds nothing, so they are allowed to get up and told to go to sleep.
Nothing criminal appears to be going on tonight but the citizenry of Kya Sands, like toddlers on sugar highs just don’t want to go to the land of nod.
A man peers over a fence.
“Hey you, why aren’t you in bed” a sergeant shouts.
Finally, the dusty streets begin to empty, generators splatter and die and silence descends on the informal settlement.
With the inhabitants tucked in bed, the RLI had accomplished their mission, an hour before curfew. It’s time to troop back to the armour cars and head to headquarters. Time for one more wise crack.
“And one more thing,” shouts a sergeant, “You must all wake up at 6am for inspection.”
The sniggers from the nearby shacks were drowned out by the laughter of the soldiers of the RLI.