The South African Police Services (SAPS) in the Western Cape are hoping to crackdown on gang-related activity across the Cape Flats during the festive season period, with the police force’s Operation Combat initiative set to cut the supply lines of illegal firearms and drugs.
Much of the focus will be centred on precincts within the Cape Flats where gang activity is most prevalent, and in some ways on the increase. Outlying areas of the province will however not be neglected.
Operation head, Brigadier Cass Goolam says SAPS have already upped the ante with regards to gang raids, as well as consolidating information gathering capacity to ensure those raids bear fruition in terms of firearm and drug recovery.
“If you are looking at the media you will see that some of the gangs, especially the numbers gangs who are not supposed to be complaining, are already crying foul of the police because of the escalated operations from Combat,” he explains.
While the operation is sure to be a welcome sight for community members, questions remain as to the level of force SAPS are likely to use during raids, with a cloud of alleged police brutality still very much hanging over the heads of the national police force. Goolam stresses that police aggression need be taken in the context of the situation.
“If you compare the aggression of the gangs what we are doing with Combat is quite mild, from my perspective. Communities are under siege from gangs and there needs to be an appropriate response from the police’s side,” he notes.
While alternate police agencies within the province have been included in the “provincial plan” for the festive season, Goolam says their involvement will be at a more localised level; the focus being on historically problematic areas like beaches and liquor outlets.
“Operation Combat itself is operating in conjunction with other tactical and specialised units to focus on the gangsters,” he reiterates.
SAPS have urged community members to assist in providing tipoffs on any suspected gang members within their respective communities. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)