President Zuma’s #SONAreply promise – Specialised Drug and Gun units for SAPS
Statement by Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety
The sudden announcement today by President Jacob Zuma during his response in the debate on the State of the Nation Address, that ‘new’ Drug and Gun units will be formed within the South African Police Service (SAPS), will be welcomed by many Western Cape communities and I call on President Zuma to honour those who have lost lives because of gang violence, with immediate implementation.
Both the official South African Government twitter account (@GovernmentZA) and the official news agency account (@SAgovnews) confirmed President Zuma’s commitment:
- @SAgovnews - President #Zuma says on SAPS's back-to-basics strategy, two units - one dealing with drugs and one with illegal firearms - will be formed; and
- @GovernmentZA - President Zuma: As part of back to basics the Police Ministry will establish new units to deal with drugs and other crimes #SONAreply.
This is a victory for every person affected by violent crimes committed by gun wielding criminals and will hopefully diminish the fatal impact of the drug kingpins and peddlers in our communities.
I believe that President Zuma’s promises are due to the sustained pressure and repeated calls from people in the Western Cape that decisive action is required against the guns that kill, the drugs that cripple our communities and the gangs which shoot and kill innocent people during their battles for drug trading territory.
These victories will however be short-lived if President Zuma’s words remain yet another empty promise without implementation details and resourcing of immediate effects.
I have been calling for the reintroduction of the Specialised Gang and Drug units since 2011 as these units possess the necessary resources and expertise to investigate thoroughly and make concrete arrests which lead to convictions in court.
Numerous requests to the National Police leadership and management have yet to elicit a response on National Police Minister, Nathi Nhleko’s, apparent flip-flop last year around re-introducing specialised units.
A public commitment made by Minister Nhleko on numerous occasions in 2015 to bring back the specialised units, such as the Gang and Drug units, within the South African Police Service (SAPS), led to a denial six months later in a parliamentary response that we are even further away from reinstating these units.
Today’s instruction from President Zuma means that Minister Nhleko can no longer delay in reintroducing the specialised units in the Western Cape to combat the scourge of guns, drugs and the gangsters who control these in our province.
I will be writing to the National Minister of Police for more information about the alleged re-introduction of these much needed specialised units. Too many lives have been lost already. I call on National Police Minister Nhleko to release the details of the new specialised units, how they will be resourced, where and when they will be deployed as a matter of life and death. The people in the Western Cape will not be appeased with delays, promises or possibilities.
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