News

Breaking down ‘culture’ of Gangs and Drugs requires Whole-of-Society

13 November 2014

Media Release by Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety

The Western Cape has a serious gang and drug problem.

The origins and prevalence of gangs and drugs in the Western Cape has taken a dramatic turn. Where we used to see our children impacted by gang and drug warfare, they are nowadays at the centre – waging war themselves.

Where we saw, and still see, kids falling prey of drug-lords, youths getting hooked on drugs and our children being killed by stray bullets; we now see kids themselves, peddling drugs, youths becoming drug kingpins and our children become ‘hitmen’ and killers.

Organised crime is no longer just affecting our youth as our youth are now also deeply involved. Our approach to deal with the impact of the ongoing scourge of drugs and gangs needs to also look at preventing our kids becoming involved in these negative social behaviours.

Honourable Speaker, the situation is untenable:

  • The latest crime stats show that the Western Cape accounted for more than 40% of the national drug related crime over the last 6 years, despite it decreasing to 33% this year;
  • The Western Cape records almost three times more drug related crimes per 100 000 people than the national average (1 420 in the WC vs 492 nationally per 100 000);
  • The latest Western Cape SAPS annual report shows gang violence increased alarmingly with 311 bystanders falling victim. Speaker, 311 innocent people were killed by gangsters in one year;
  • The Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry has shown that Murder in Khayelitsha is the leading cause of death in children between the ages of 15-19, and the second leading cause of death in children 10-14 years old.

Honourable Speaker, we cannot accept this situation as normal.

This is not a debate to politicize. This is not an issue where we must assign blame.

This is a crisis which is impacting the youth, stripping innocence, stealing futures and side-lining a generation.

The ‘culture’ of gangs and drugs, of organised crime threatening social cohesion, is one which has to be broken down.

We will not be successful in breaking down this culture if we try to do this each as an individual, a political party, a sphere of government, a department or as the police in isolation from one another.

We must however, question the reason why 85% of all police stations in the province are under resourced. We must question why almost 60% of this country’s police vacancies are in the Western Cape.

A handful of convictions in gang-related crimes, when thousands of gangsters still terrorise our communities, unfortunately does not equate to unilateral success of a strategy meant to counter gangsterism in the Western Cape.  This is particularly true when convictions around gang affected areas are as low as 10%, with Khayelitsha being as low as 1%. Speaker, 1% of crimes result in the criminal going to jail, 99% walk free.

We need specialised gang and drug units to be reintroduced. These units possess the necessary resources and expertise to investigate and make arrests and come with a track record of success. While some operations might have limited success, they are not achieving what is needed quick enough.

Where is the massive crackdown on gangs? They shoot openly on our streets every day.

Honourable Speaker, it is critical that police intelligence begins focusing on the trafficking of weapons in the province. As much as 35 weapons are being confiscated per week on the Cape Flats. How are these guns getting onto our streets in the first place?

We know that the national government and the SAPS had some concerns around the reservist service. In 2009, there were almost 5000 active police reservists yet in 2012 there were not even 2000. With less reservists and less officers recruited our crime situation falls into perspective.

If the police do not have the adequate resources to eradicate the problems, how can we expect the police to curb the violence and crippling effect of gangsterism and drug abuse on our communities?

This is why the Western Cape Government has at times called for the temporary deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) as a visible peace-keeping force, to free up the police to do the necessary investigative work needed to ensure arrests. Earlier this year the army was deployed in other provinces to restore calm in a situation of community unrest, but not in the Western Cape when people are dying from gangsters’ bullets.

With communities at the centre, we need the help from the Police and other spheres of government but most importantly from parents as well.

Speaker, active parenthood is more valuable than any government or police intervention. The Parents’ role in being role models for their children, guiding their children on paths steering clear from substance abuse and drugs, and ensuring that their children knows the difference between right and wrong; are an essential part of a child’s upbringing. We have to prevent our children getting involved in gang related activities. I call on parents to work with us in this regard.

The SAPS management in this province has shown an honest desire to work with us to increase safety, because it is only by working together that we will accomplish anything.

The Department of Community Safety has partnered with FET Colleges like Northlink where they have made bursaries available for young people to apply and study.

We partner with the religious fraternity to provide alternative opportunities to youth during holidays through the Youth Safety and Religious Partnership - in June 2014 more than 80 organisations reached more than 14 000 youths.

Through our Chrysalis academy, we are providing development and training opportunities to youths between the ages of 17 and 25 to empower them economically, morally and spiritually. The success of the Chrysalis academy is being replicated with the establishment of a second, similar academy at Wolwekloof just outside of Ceres.

We partner with Municipalities, City Improvement Districts (CIDs), Neighbourhood Watches (NHWs) and Community Policing Forums (CPFs) in the strategic deployment of safety kiosks as a visible deterrence for criminal behaviour.

I thank you.

Media Enquiries: 

Ewald Botha
Spokesperson
Cell: 079 694 1113