Following a landmark announcement by Minister of Police Bheki Cele declaring that the South African National Defence Force would be deployed to the Cape Flats, provincial Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz has expressed his elation with the decision. Despite his praise, however, he believes the deployment of the SANDF is not a solution to the problem of crime and gangsterism in Cape Town.
“We are elated. In fact, I’m having breakfast with the premier right now,” said a celebratory Fritz.
“We are very happy, but this is not a solution. I want to emphasise that this is to get stability in the gang infested areas.”
“From our side, we immediately need to establish an inter-ministerial committee so that we also play our part. It’s no use just calling on the Minister of Police – that’s only part of the solution. The solution is to create alternatives to gangsterism. We need to show that there are other ways of life and we need to work on economic development.”
Minister Fritz condemned the low gang-related conviction rate – which he cited as standing at a mere two percent. He also argued that the continual under-resourcing of police stations in the Western Cape needs to be addressed.
Furthermore, Minister Fritz announced that he would make a proposal this morning to increase and improve internship programmes for new matriculants – programmes he hopes will steer youth away from crime and gangsterism.
“I’m going to make a proposal to cabinet this morning that all our matriculants (on the condition that they pass) be placed in an internship where they’ll get training and job readiness so that they can go into the market…this is how we can put young people to work and not into gangs,” said Fritz.
Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde has also released a statement welcoming the decision to deploy the SANDF to the “worst affected crime areas” in the province.
However, not passing on the opportunity to score political points following the announcement by Minister Cele, Winde said:
“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, a fact denied by Cele a mere few days ago,” reads the statement.
It seems the ANC has also done an about turn on the matter. After voicing its opposition to the calls for the army’s deployment, the ANC in the Western Cape said it welcomes the announcement.
“Gangs have been terrorising our communities for far too long. The province – and metro area especially – is known for its reputation of being South Africa’s murder capital,” said Western Cape ANC Shadow Community Safety MEC Mesuli Kama.
Of the top ten policing precincts where the highest numbers of murders were recorded nationally, seven were in the province. Kama said the SANDF strategy was important for stabilization given the acute crisis our communities face.
“We understand this to be an interim measure to help stabilize communities. It is not a lasting solution. The ANC calls on the Minister to expedite the appointment of a provincial commissioner, decisively deal with divisions in the police service, also urgently address the challenge of skewed allocation of police resources to and budgets in the province.”
The announcement of the SANDF being deployed into the Cape Flats has been widely welcomed by the broader Cape Town community. However, there has been some criticism of the move to deploy the army. Some comments from the public indicate a fear of increased violence while others express concern that the gang violence will resume – and that the crime rate will increase – once the army eventually leaves.