THE army will not be deployed to curb gang violence on the Cape Flats – but police work will be intensified as part of a long-term solution to the problem, President Jacob Zuma has decided.
Premier Helen Zille had asked Zuma in July to deploy the army to help police combat crime in Lavender Hill and Hanover Park. At the time, at least 23 people, including seven children, had been killed in gang shootings – 17 in Hanover Park and Lavender Hill alone.
Yesterday, Zuma’s spokes-man, Mac Maharaj, said he had decided against deploying troops and opted for more intensive police action and long-term interventions by the government’s social and economic clusters.
The decision followed briefs by the ministers of police and defence and military veterans, whose departments have had a joint task team assess Hanover Park and Lavender Hill, said Maharaj. He said the ministers had highlighted that police had the capacity to deal with gang violence, while a long-term multidisciplinary approach was needed to deal with the socio-economic conditions in these areas.
Police would also increase their intelligence gathering and visibility in Manenberg, Elsies River and Nyanga, Maharaj said.
“President Zuma has also directed ministers in the social and economic sectors to study the situation and look for long-term solutions that promote sustainable development and stable communities. The president will monitor the situation to ascertain success of the initiatives, and further decisions will be taken if necessary,” he said.
Zille said Zuma’s response was not surprising and although the gang violence had subsided, there would be more flare-ups in future, as had happened before.
“In those instances, the army was brought in and that intervention previously proved effective. It is vital that SAPS in these communities is supported to be as effective as possible so they can undertake investigative policing, gather evidence and secure convictions to deter future gang violence and other criminal activity,” Zille said.
Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said: “I am disappointed by the failure of the president to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation. SAPS until now have not shown that they have sufficient capacity to contain the situation and stop the killings.”
Community Police Forum provincial chairman Haniff Loonat said Zuma’s decision was no surprise. “It is the most politically correct decision. During the apartheid era, the then-government deployed the army when all else failed.
“This showed a lack of leadership and confidence in the various government structures.
“This decision should not be seen as a point-scoring or undermining of the DA’s request, but rather as one made in the best interest of the concerned communities and the country at large,”he said.