A SANDF member patrols in Hanover Park. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - There is still some doubt as to the impact of the army on murder statistics on the Cape Flats, as there was a marginal decrease in murders over the previous week.

However, there was a marked decrease in gun related murders and an increase in knife deaths.

Gun related murders in the metro dropped to 16 over the past weekend after 41 deaths were recorded, making the latest figure the lowest in 10 weeks.

A total of 19 deaths were the result of stabbings and six due to other circumstances.

Premier Alan Winde said that compared to last weekend, the number of recorded murders in the metro region dipped from 46 to 41, “which is still incredibly high”.

“What we have seen is a marked decline in the number of murders as a result of gunshot, which was at its lowest in at least 10 weekends.”

He said the number of stabbings remained a concern “as these could point to instances of interpersonal violence, which in some instances are very difficult to police and prevent”.

The weekend before the army was deployed, 33 people were shot and killed, while 18 people were shot in the first weekend of the army deployment. Winde said that last weekend 21 deaths by gunshot were recorded.

Winde said the army was deployed in the Western Cape as a stabilisation force, “and I believe we are starting to see some impact of the additional boots on the ground in some of the trends we are seeing”.

Bonteheuwel ward councillor Angus McKenzie, however, said the army’s deployment in its current state had made little to no impact due to the manner in which that deployment had taken place.

“A greater concern is the fact that the army has effectively served as a security service for the police, escorting them while searching the known drug houses and find, in most cases, nothing,” McKenzie said. During a public seminar to explore the deployment of soldiers to the streets of the city’s gang-ridden communities by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Nyanga community policing forum chairperson Martin Makazi said the deployment of the army “looks like VIP protection for the police”.

“I can’t stand here and pretend there’s been a huge impact, there hasn’t. Murders are still high, grievous bodily harm assaults are still high,” Makazi said. 

He called for proper deployment strategies for the army.

Senior researcher: justice and violence prevention at the ISS Dr Andrew Faull said the Western Cape government had been calling for the deployment of the army for two years.

“They should have simultaneously developed a plan to facilitate and monitor the impact of the deployment and how will the impact be measured.”

The provincial Department of Health said the provincial data (January to July) showed a significant increase in patients presenting to specialised hospitals’ emergency centres with gunshot injuries.

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo together with head of department Dr Beth Engelbrecht, head of the trauma centre at Groote Schuur Hospital Professor Andy Nicol, head of surgery at Tygerberg Hospital Dr Elmin Steyn and forensic pathology specialist Gavin Kirk will be highlighting the impact of trauma cases, especially gunshot cases, at the Groote Schuur Hospital - Klein Schuur Exhibition Room on Thursday.

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Cape Argus