The Metro Police’s specialised Gang and Drug Unit has yielded positive results in areas like Hanover Park and Ottery in recent months, part of a City of Cape Town-led clampdown on gang activity on the most crime-ridden communities across the city. Hanover Park and Ottery in particular have experienced an alarming increase in gang-related shootings during the latter part of 2015, spurring the City’s specialised police force to increase its efforts at crime prevention.
“We now have a more significant presence in Ottery and Lavender Hill. That has already started to have an impact as we’ve seen gang activity reduced. We had a flair-up the other night, but as with Manenberg we’ve seen a dramatic reduction reduction in violent activity since,” explains Mayco member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.
Despite Metro Police’s effort however, the local government’s police force’s operations remain limited by a number of issues, including limited crime fighting jurisdiction and a thin supply of resources compared to its national counterpart, the South African Police Services (SAPS). According to Smith, the officers operating under the City’s banner amount to the same number of SAPS officers currently stationed in Manenberg alone.
“We are being very creative with our deployment and we do have a weapon in the toolbox that unfortunately national government has refused to use (Drug and Gang Units). I think that must frustrate SAPS a great deal,” Smith suggests.
Smith also assures that despite the relationship between Metro Police and SAPS being frozen “further up the food chain”, there remains a good sense of cooperation between the respective forces at a ground level.
“I think we’ve had a spree of cooperation, especially in the Northern Suburbs where traditionally that (level of) cooperation has maybe not been as good.
“We’ve had very good joint operations in the Northern Suburbs with SAPS, each of which have hit a significant load. We’ve had good operations around the centre of the city and we’ve worked together well in Atlantis, Ottery and Lotus River,” he notes.
Smith adds that the City is hoping to increase Metro Police’s resources come 2016.
“Because the mayor has made more resources available we will be pushing them with more staff and hopefully a second Stabilisation Unit,” he concludes. VOC