On Friday, Minister of Police, Bheki Cele was quoted in the press as saying that the crime situation in the Western Cape is not bad enough to warrant the deployment of the army to the province.
Would Minister Cele dare say this to the families and loved ones of the 2302 people who have been murdered in the province between November 2018, when the anti-gang unit was launched, and May this year?
Several community policing forums, which are on the ground each day and face the day-to-day reality of protecting their communities against violence, have called for the deployment of the SANDF in order to tackle the recent spike in gang violence on the Cape Flats.
Turf wars, and gun battles take place on the streets of these communities on a daily basis, with innocent residents, some of whom are children, getting caught in the crossfire. People live in fear for their lives.
In other areas of our province, rural and farming communities experience similar fear.
The crime situation in the Western Cape requires an urgent intervention. Due to massive under-resourcing, our police officers are being stretched thin. With too few officers, and a lack of crime intelligence, police officers themselves, are coming under attack from brazen criminals.
The deployment of the SANDF as peacekeepers in our communities will act as an additional tool in our line of defense against criminals, to add to the police, community police forums, and neighbourhood watches. Any move that seeks to take back the power from gangsters and criminals, and which puts more boots on the ground, should be considered and supported.
Minister Cele claims that SANDF troops are not trained to deal with civilians. I’ve also noted messaging by SANDF top brass that crime prevention is not part of the SANDF’s training. However, the SANDF have on other occasions been deployed around the country in support of SAPS.
The deployment of the army as a peacekeeping force on the Cape Flats would free up police to do investigative work that will help put syndicates, gang leaders, drug dealers, murderers and assorted other criminals who terrorize our people daily, behind bars.
The Western Cape Government has made numerous requests over the years for the deployment of the army. This latest call does not come from us, but comes from the Community Police Forums, on behalf of the residents of this province.
The recent spike in violence in the province of late is an indicator that the police are not able to effectively deal with the situation. It cannot be business as usual and we need to be doing everything possible, and using all of the tools at our disposal, to root out crime.
Last week, Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz held a meeting with police top management, Alderman JP Smith, and SAPS and Metro Police officials to focus on the bottlenecks affecting coordination, cooperation and joint planning between the various role players.
Minister Fritz said: " There was agreement to urgently address the immediate deployment of senior SAPS officials to the Traffic Management Centre (TMC) where much of the crime related CCTV footage of the City is coordinated and analysed.
It was also agreed to improve the workings of the various priority committees of theProvincial Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (PROVJOINTS) – which is a key structure aimed at establishing stabilisation and normalisation. While I welcome the commitments made in this meeting; I further call on Minister Cele to urgently prioritise the most vulnerable in our province by fully considering all the options available to address gang violence, including the deployment of SANDF, " Minister Fritz said.