We welcome the employment of the SANDF in areas of the Cape Flats from tonight, as authorised by President Cyril Ramaphosa, to stabilise communities that have been ravaged by a major spike in gang activity and crime.
Last weekend alone, 55 deaths by gunshot or stabbing by a sharp object were recorded inthe province, with 33 of these in the Metro West region. It is my hope that the SANDF employment over the period ahead in areas which will reportedly include Bonteheuwel, Delft, Hanover Park and Philippi East, will see a major reduction in these numbers.
The current situation is unprecedented, and we need to be taking unprecedented steps to ensure that people are safe. It is time to get drastic.
Communities and the Western Cape Government have been calling for the army as a peacekeeping and stabilisation force for several years.
Minister Cele has, until recently, maintained that crime is not bad enough on the Cape Flats to warrant the army going in, but we are relieved by and welcome this about-turn.
This a clear admission that the police have lost control of the war on crime. It is therefore more pressing than ever that we continue to drive our inter-governmental dispute with Minister Cele on policing allocation and resourcing, and we will continue to fight for provincial control of the police service.
The SANDF has been authorized to observe, cordon off and search, conduct vehicle and foot patrols, and provide air support which will also help to identify drug manufacturing labs. This will hopefully create a conducive environment for the South African Police to conduct major interventions in these areas to investigate crime, apprehend known criminals, and root out gangsterism, guns and drugs.
Gang warfare is out of control and we have to use every tool at our disposal. The WesternCape Government and the City of Cape Town have already placed additional law enforcement resources at schools in specific areas, and we continue to provide resources to neighbourhood watches.
Just yesterday, I also wrote to Minister Bheki Cele and top police management to urge them to use all the tools at their disposal to drive out crime, including Section 13(7) of theSAPS Act, which allows police to cordon off specific areas and conduct search and seizure operations for a period of 24 hours in order to restore public order or to ensure the safety of the public.
The clause allows for either the National or the Provincial Commissioner to authorize inwriting that people, property and vehicles to be searched without a warrant for a period not exceeding 24 hours.
This is a further tool that could be used over the period ahead to root out gangs, guns and drugs, and would be particularly effective if the army was in place.