Despite vociferous calls for the deployment of the army to gang afflicted communities, the Minister of Police says the army will not be deployed to the Cape Flats. Various stakeholders from the community met for a ministerial session with the Minister of Police Bheki Cele on Thursday to address the ongoing gang violence within communities. Cele indicated that an additional 269 police officers have been deployed to communities to assist in stabilization.
Founding member of United Public Safety Front, John Cloete, citing the minister, said the view was that a militaristic approach to community policing was not a solution and therefore Cele did not support the call for the deployment of the army.
“According to him [Cele], the army has not been trained to deal with crowd control. They were trained to kill. They are not trained to arrest and they do not use rubber bullets,” Cloete explained.
“In essence, they are not trained to deal with gang violence and the scourge of violence that we are currently experiencing.”
The introduction of the officers, according to Cele, will be followed by a phase of normalisation.
Meanwhile, Lucinda Evans, the chairperson of Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum cluster, was also in attendance at the ministerial meeting, agreed with the minister for deciding against deploying the army.
However, Evans criticized other stakeholders for not attending the meeting and added that children within gang-ridden communities need to be afforded alternatives to a life of crime.
“I am dismally disappointed at the fact that the other stakeholders and government officials were not there. I would have expected the HOD’s of the Department of Social Development and the Department of Education to be there. The solution to gang violence doesn’t just rest within the mandate of the South Africa Police Service.
“We are concerned that schools are still expelling children with behavioural challenges right into the hands of gangsters.”
Evans lauded community policing forums and neighbourhood watches for working with law enforcement to assist in mapping a way forward.
“But, now we have to look at the timeline of how the proposed plan is going to be rolled out and if there is going to be interaction with the other HOD’s from the other government departments who should be part of the strategy.
She further questioned the role of Metro Police and Law Enforcement in bringing stability to communities within Cape Town.
“What we need is long-term solutions to a prolonged problem…I want to tell the Department of Social Development to come and take the hands of SAPS and civilians, because we are really trying to ensure that our communities are safe,” Evans concluded.