The South African Defence Force will seal off the Cape Flats starting from 2 a.m on Friday morning. The request to get the army was made to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

This was announced by  Police Minister Bheki Cele when he responded to his budget vote debate in the National Assembly Thursday night.

The Deployment of the Defence Force to assist the police was prompted by the spate of mass killings that took place on the Cape Flats recently.

Cele says, “It is on the basis of what happened at Phillipi that the Minister of Defence and the  Minister of Police have written to the President and requested the permission of the  expanded deployment in these places here in  the Western Cape. We will be deploying  in the Western Cape, in your Khayelitsha, in your Uitsig and everywhere else. We”ll be deploying from 2 a.m the previous night this morning. We have started to deploy extra police and tomorrow we are sealing off the Western Cape’s Cape Flats with the South African Defence Force, with the Special Forces of the South African Police.

“We’ll make sure that the people of these places are finally safe, working together with everybody, working together with the police,  with all other  JCPS contingents. We will do that at Khayelitsha, Phillipi, Harare, Gugulethu, eMfuleni, Kraaifontein, Mitchells Plain, Bishop’s  Lavis. We will do that at Delft,  Elsies River, Nyanga where people have been dying. We’ll seal that one. We’ll go door-to-door. We’ll collect every illegal firearms. We’ll collect all criminals that we want. We’ll collect all outstanding criminals that have been on bail. And that is happening from 2 o’clock this morning [Friday]. At  2 a.m I will be addressing the forces to put there,” Minister Cele explains.

Challenge  to Police Generals

In his opening speech  during his budget vote the Police Minister challenged police Generals in the country to give up their uniforms if the crime situation does not improve on the Cape Flats, following the mass killings that took place over the weekend.

11 people where murdered in Phillipi township last weekend. The murders included the killing of six young women who were shot and killed in the Marcus Garvey informal settlement on Friday.

Cele challenges top cops stressing that, “The recurring scenes of scattered dead bodies in the streets of Phillipi, Mitchells Plain and Nyanga are unbearable. It is on that score that I challenge all Generals in the South African Police to surrender their uniform if this situation does not improve. The battle ahead of us requires a dedicated and selfless workforce that is equal to the task.”

During the debate, the DA’s Andrew Whitfield told Cele that lack of visible policing and shortage of police are some of the main challenges facing communities in gang and crime infested areas of the Western Cape.

Whitfield told the Police Minister that inadequate police resources affect other provinces more than it affects others.

“In the Western Cape last year, for example, Minister, half of the murders were recorded at only 13% of police stations. And murder in  Phillipi East precinct, where we had the horrific incident just last weekend, has increased by  over 18% over the last five years. Yet over the past two years, the Western Cape provincial policing ratio has deteriorated from one police officer to every 385 people, down to one police officer for every 509 people. And in the last four years, the Western Cape has lost 4 500 police officers.”

“Most dangerous city in the world”

EFF MP Tseko Mafanya says Cape Town will soon become the most dangerous city in the world if the high levels of murder are not addressed.

Mafanya says gangsterism,  gender-based violence, politically-motivated killings are the three types of crimes that are tearing communities apart in South Africa.

“Cape Town is on the way to become the most dangerous city in the world with more murder per capita than city in the middle of the narcotics war of South and Central America. Just this weekend, 11 people were murdered in Phillipi. And in Hanover Park, 45  people have been killed here in gang violence. But gangsterism is not just limited to Cape Town, you find it across the country even in rural areas and it only continues to spread,” Mafanya argues.

“South Africans must feel safe”

The IFP’s  Zandile Majozi says lawlessness  across the country cannot only be left at the doorstep of the Minister of Police. She says society cannot achieve its full potential while its people live in fear.

“Development is only possible if individual rights and liberties are secured across the board. South Africans must feel safe and they must be kept safe. We’re talking less and listening more to the plight many face and lending an ear to their solutions. We will be able to have more responsive caring professional and disciplined police. Our police must be professional , our police must be trusted, our police must be equipped to deal with the ever changing crime landscapes. Our  police cannot turn a blind eye on gender based violence.”


Lack of service delivery

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald says one of the biggest challenges facing effective policing in crime areas is the fact that they have to attend to incidents caused by lack of service delivery at local government level.

“And that means that there is a burden put on the soldiers of our police members to ensure that there is peace and stability because (of) the lack of services of political government of the ANC. And I appeal to you that you (Minister) stand up in Cabinet and ensure that where the ANC governs, especially, on local government level, that they deliver properly and proper services so that we do not over stress our members from the police services. I saw it in North West last month. The intervention unit, they work 24 hours. They have to wait there all the time because the Mayor in JB Marks does not want to communicate with the communities. That’s unacceptable.”

Call to amend crime prevention legislation

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe wants the organised crime prevention legislation to be amended to outlaw gang membership – saying the anti gang units will not solve the problem of gangsterism.

“Prevention of  Organised Crime Act no 121 of 1998 has sections that deals with gang-related activities about penalties. It even has what they call interpretation of member of  criminal gang, but it  does not prohibit gang membership. The ACDP would like to  see an amendment to this ACT to ensure that gang memberships is outlawed. Gangs are causing havoc in our communities and terrorising our people,- robbing them of their right to live. The anti gang units that  Honourable Minister spoke about. I am not convinced that they will solve the problem of gangsterism.”

During the debate, the NFP’s Achmed Saik Emam raised concern over the killing of police officers which grabs little attention.

“In South Africa when a police officer kills a criminal, all the political  parties are shouting and screaming,- police officer  kills the criminal. But when the criminal kills the police officer, nobody says a thing. And what is disappointing is, they forget that when a police officer dies, the entire community dies with him or her.”

Al Jama-ah’s Ganief Hendricks said the hotspots on the Cape Flats have to be tackled.

“In the short term we must consider to take away some of the freedoms parts of the Cape Flats enjoy. I would never have  said this in the harsh days of apartheid, but it must be an option Honourable Minister to deal with the hotspots, with the force and might of a police space.”

The Western Cape Policing Forum Board is calling for the declaration of the state of emergency as a means to curb rampant crime on the Cape Flats.