Disgruntled community police forum members will engage with Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and MEC for Community Safety Albert Fritz over the current impasse over policing interventions to curb gang shootings. So said a dissatisfied Byron de Villiers, the chairperson of the Lentegeur Community Policing Forum (CPF), after what is regarded by some as a fruitless meeting between the Minister of Police Bheki Cele and members of the Mitchells Plain Cluster CPF on Tuesday to discuss the “crisis” of gang violence in the Western Cape. The Mitchells Plain Cluster CPF had an additional meeting last night and now has plans to arrange an even bigger meeting with all CPF chairpersons and community organisations.
“We mandated our chairperson to take our demands to the minister. Our demands were very simple – provide the resources necessary for us to have a safer community,” said de Villiers.
“We also demanded that he [the minister] give us his view as to what force multiplier he would use, if not the army. We haven’t gotten a clear answer from the minister.”
“Therefore we have now called on all community organisations and on all CPF chairpersons throughout the Western Cape to attend our meeting. We will then hear the plight of the rest of the communities.”
De Villiers argues that Minister Cele does not fully understand the gravity of the situation in the Western Cape and that the statistics the minister is receiving are likely inaccurate reflections of the lived reality within the communities.
“I don’t think that they [SAPS and the Minister of Police] understand the seriousness and the impact all these killings have on our community.”
“[In the Western Cape] from Friday last week until yesterday, we had about 60 murders in a space of four days. The majority of those murders are through gang violence. Whatever statistics the minister is seeing are not a true reflection of what is happening within our communities. Our people are demanding for the force multiplier to come in and stabilise the situation…if we must lock down communities then that is what we have to do. The only way we are going to do that is if we have boots on the ground,” said a desperate de Villiers.
De Villiers also reasoned that considering that the SANDF is sufficiently trained in peacekeeping, there is no obvious reason why they can’t commit to peacekeeping in their own country. He says that the army is utilised for many things, other than what it is intended for – which is to protect the people of South Africa and to ensure a stable state.
“We know that the SANDF has been trained as peacekeepers as well. Why can’t they do it for our country, for our citizens?” asked de Villiers.
“We have the SANDF sitting in the Kruger National Park, watching the rhinos – and yes, the rhinos are important, but so are people’s lives.”
“Why not send out a few battalions and stabilise the situation? That, alone, would be showing that our government is taking the lives on the Cape Flats seriously.”
There seems to be a lack of hope in resolving the matter through the Minister of Police. Community members are becoming increasingly frustrated with government’s response – both on a national and provincial level.
“I don’t think the minister has an idea as to where this force multiplier is going to come from…”
The meeting with community organisations and CPF chairpersons will take place at Garlandale High School this Saturday 6 July 2019 at 09:00am