WC Cabinet to Discuss SANDF Intervention in Fight Against Gang Violence
At the next sitting of the Western Cape Cabinet, Premier Helen Zille will table a proposal for the South African National Defence Force to intervene in the fight against gang-related activity. Discussions would also be held with the Provincial Police Command before making a formal approach to national Ministers for the SANDF’s intervention.
This was revealed in the Premier’s latest Daily Maverick column on Monday, 9 October 2017.
Discussing recent events involving gang-related crime and violence across the province, Premier Zille said: “The public frustration is entirely understandable. The question the Western Cape provincial government must address is: What can we do to solve the problem? The answer, unfortunately, is very little, due to the way our Constitution and the law apportion powers over policing (and the criminal justice system in general)”.
“South Africa is, to my knowledge, the only country in the world where provinces have the very limited mandate of “oversight” over a highly centralised national police service, without any operational control over the police, no policy-making powers, and minimal ability to effect the necessary changes,” said Premier Zille.
The under-resourcing of SAPS remained the biggest driver of the safety crisis in parts of the province – which required assistance from national government.
“The fact is a mere 7% of police precincts in the Western Cape account for almost half of all murders. Police under-resourcing patterns tend to be evident in the same areas where crime is highest,” said Zille.
Despite the lack of operational mandate, the Western Cape Government, through the Department of Community Safety, has launched several oversight and community partnership initiatives to try and assist in the fight against crime and drug abuse where possible.
The Premier’s latest proposal would look to the feasibility of requesting national government intervention to authorise the SANDF to assist the SAPS to combat crime in the province.
Similar requests in the past by the Premier had been turned down by national government. The Western Cape Cabinet will again consider making the request.
Sections 30 and 31 of the Defence Act allow the Chief of the Defence Force, or his designee, to appoint any member of the defence force as a military police official, who may at any time and in any place perform any police function, which includes the prevention and combating of crime, the investigation of any offence or alleged offence, and the maintenance of law and order.
Premier Zille said: “In short this means that Defence Force members can be deployed as force multipliers to assist the police and ‘blanket’ an area to crack down on drugs and crime. Of course, this must be done in the context of commitment to co-operative governance. We will have to discuss the proposal in detail in the Western Cape cabinet, as a precursor to discussions with the Provincial Police Command, as a prelude to approaching the relevant national ministers. We will have to make a strong evidence-based case of the extent of the crisis in certain areas, while avoiding, at all costs, an exercise in political point scoring.”
“We owe it to the people living in these unbearable circumstances to use every constitutional lever we can to help resolve the daily problems they face,” said Premier Zille.