Questions surrounding the effectiveness of the SANDF have been raised, after just over a month of being deployed to gang-ridden areas on the Cape Flats. Many residents in gang afflicted areas are sceptical about the impact the SANDF has had on crime since their deployment, with some saying they are nothing more than “tourists”. In one of the deadliest weekends in the province, 47 murders were recorded by forensic services in the metro earlier this month. Of the 47 murders, 27 were shootings and 13 were stabbings.
Chairman of the Lentegeur Community Policing Forum, Byron de Villiers says that even with boots on the ground in many areas, the situation with crime and gangsterism remains threatening.
“Unfortunately, in the Lentegeur precinct we had a few shootings and we still haven’t seen the army in our area yet. If the army was deployed in the manner we understood they would be, I’m sure the figures [of murder and crime] would be down by way more.”
De Villiers says that he’s disappointed with the way the army is being utilised. He feels that the SANDF could contribute more meaningfully by playing a more active role.
“We, as a Mitchells Plain cluster, made a call for the army,” he said.
“But it’s not effective when they’re merely tourists in the areas – standing around and not being managed properly. Go do your problematic houses – go to the gang leaders and do operations!”
“We feel they are being misguided in terms of what their operational effectiveness should be.”
Bishop Lavis community activist Abdul Kariem Matthews believes a militarised solution is not working and what communities need “is a different army”.
“(We need) An army of social workers, an army of drug rehabilitation centres, an army of teachers, an army of sports, an army of recreational centres and finally the working class needs jobs at a decent wage,” he wrote on Facebook.
He said more shutdowns will be planned to disrupt the “denial of the war” raging across the Cape Flats.
“The mortuaries are overflowing, and the bodies are stacked up. The emergency services personnel are suffering from PTSD and the hospitals are practicing battlefield medicine. Over 2400 dead bodies to date. And the body count will escalate come November and December.”
“Working-class women, men and children are dying because the government refuses to listen. Those not impacted by this war ignore our appeals, our demands, our tears, our trauma and our lived experience.
“You don’t want us to disrupt your comfortable lives. You don’t what us to disrupt the traffic. You don’t want us to disrupt your schooling and you don’t want us to disrupt the universities. And yet you ignore how our lives are disrupted by merciless gangs and drug lords.What have we done you may ask? Take responsibility you say.”
Karriem said even though efforts are being made by communities to be more pro-active in fighting crime and to get involved in social welfare projects, the violence continues unabated.
“Give SAPS the names of the criminals you say. Give up your children you say. I can quote chapter and verse to you how dockets disappear because of corrupt criminal cops. I can show you how witnesses are routinely killed. How about Ellen Pakkies who out of desperation and fear had to take the life of her drug addicted son. That is the lived reality of the working class,” he continued.
Despite the lack of effectiveness thus far, De Villiers maintains that there is an urgent need for the SANDF in the Cape Flats. He has also indicated that his CPF will meet with the provincial Ministry of Community Safety on the 29 August, where he hopes to discuss some of these issues.