The Western Cape government has welcomed the national minister of police’s decision to deploy the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in gang-ridden areas in Cape Town.
On Tuesday night, Police Minster Fikile Mbalula announced in a statement that the SANDF would help quell gang violence in both Gauteng and the Western Cape.
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said this was “a step in the right direction”, but a more permanent solution needed to be found.
She said if approved the army would bring short term stabilisation, but gang units, disbanded several years ago, should be reinstated as a long term strategy to combat gangsterism.
Premier Zille said: “While we have enjoyed a good working relationship with Saps [South African Police Service] at provincial level, much needs to be done to boost police resources and bolster crime fighting efforts. The fact is half of all murders occur in just 7 percent of Western Cape precincts – the same areas where police resources are lacking. This under-resourcing crisis remains the domain of Minister Mbalula and national Saps, where the control and operational mandate over policing lies”.
She said President Jacob Zuma had promised the re-establishment of gang units in early 2016, but this had still not happened.
She added: “It is unfathomable that Saps plan to cut 3 000 police officers from the Western Cape at a time when police to population ratios are soaring well above the national average. The use of police reservists has also been close to 0% over the last three years in the Western Cape. This is due to the current reservist recruitment policy by Saps”.
The announcement that the SANDF will be deployed comes less than two weeks before the release of the latest official crime statistics on October 23.