S. African gang-infested communities question effectiveness of army deployment

Tuesday 20th August, 2019
South African Police Service

CAPE TOWN, Aug. 20, (Xinhua/GNA) - Gang-infested communities in and around Cape Town have started to question the effectiveness of army deployment as murder rate remained high, authorities have said.

If communities do not feel safer, then the South African Defence Force (SANDF) and the South African Police Service (SAPS) are not fulfilling their role and their mandate, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said.

Releasing the latest update on crime statistics in gang-infested areas in and around Cape Town, Winde said residents are a far cry from feeling safe after the deployment of troops in the fight against gang violence.

The metro region of the Western Cape saw 34 murders last weekend, with 21 deaths as a result of shootings, six as a result of stabbings, and seven as a result of other means, according to Winde.

Although the weekend murder rate has declined from 47 murders recorded in the previous weekend, "this is of little comfort when 34 families are currently grieving the loss of a loved one," said Winde.

"We must be working towards zero, and nothing more," he stressed.

On July 18, the SANDF began deploying troops in parts of the Cape Town metro where gangs had spiraled out of control.

The troops were deployed to conduct cordon and search, observation, foot and vehicle patrols as well as to provide air support for police, with the aim of reducing crime in 10 specified hot spots. With a large number of the deaths last weekend taking place in these hot spots, "we have to question whether the promises made to the residents of the Western Cape by the police at the time of the deployment, are being kept," Winde said.

The SAPS, due to their poor management, have lost control of the fight against crime, he claimed.

The provincial government will receive a report from the SAPS on crime and safety operations and the use of the SANDF, said Winde.

"We want to understand what the police, working with the army, are doing to prevent crime and curb violence," he said.

Minister of Police Bheki Cele has been criticized for turning a blind eye to a request for a fully resourced and functioning police service with an effective and committed management in the Western Cape.

Confronted by rising crimes, the Western Cape's police force is dramatically under-resourced compared to other provinces run by the ruling African National Congress (ANC), according to Winde.

The Western Cape, the only province run by an opposition party, has requested more police officers but to no avail.

While one officer must protect 375 people on average nationally, in the Western Cape, the ratio is 1:509.The opposition Democratic Alliance, which administers the Western Cape, accuses the ANC of turning a blind eye to rising crimes in the province in a bid to weaken the DA's control.