Community Safety MECAlbert Fritz at the weekend revealed that most of the 1 000 suspects arrested in a clampdown on gang violence in the Cape Flats were released "within 72 hours". Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Western Cape Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz at the weekend revealed that most of the 1 000 suspects arrested in a clampdown on gang violence in the Cape Flats were released "within 72 hours". 

Fritz, who its at odds with national police minister on how to tackle the alarming high number of murders and other gang related crimes, said nearly five weeks since the army was brought in to assist the police Cape Flats residents were "rightfully beginning to question the impact of the deployment in their communities". 

He said murder rates remain high and patrols reportedly last no longer than three hours at a time.

"It is imperative that we are provided with further information on the SANDF’s [SA National Defence Forces] deployment plans and tactics, but this information is kept from us," said Fritz on Sunday.

He said the army was deployed to assist SA Police Service, Metro Police and other law enforcement agencies to stabilise and push back the high levels of gang-related crime in our communities. 

"Police Minister Bheki Cele, has boasted that this intervention has resulted in high levels of police visibility in the most gang-afflicted communities, the confiscation of illegal firearms and the arrests of over 1,000 individuals with outstanding warrants of arrest," said Fritz.

"Having said that, it is concerning that these arrests have not resulted in charges and convictions. 

"I have been informed that the majority of those arrested were released within 72 hours due to detective services’ failure to positively link the arrests to crimes and/or to complete the requisite investigations.

"I therefore urgently call on Minister Bheki Cele to make use of my Department’s Court Watching Briefs Unit to track arrests made during the deployment, and to ensure they lead to the successful prosecution of guilty parties."

Fritz said in addition, the Transport Management Centre (TMC) in Goodwood - a valuable resource - has been made available to the police, but they have "not used it optimally". 

The provinces community safety minister added: "As I have highlighted before, our criminal justice system is held hostage by the poor state of detective services and the SAPS. Ultimately, Detectives are responsible for gathering evidence for criminal cases. The quality of their work determines whether a case is solved or dropped.

"Unfortunately, not only are there resource shortages and a lack of training amongst our detectives, but our detectives are also completely overburdened. More than ever, we need the SAPS’ detective services to step up and ensure that criminals are prosecuted."

Western Cape Community Safety Minister MEC Albert Fritz.

Fritz said the Western Cape government has said countless times that the deployment of the army will not in itself defeat crime in the province and that the deployment of should be accompanied by an array of developmental programmes.

"We must all work together to overthrow the empires of organised crime that plague our province," said Fritz.

"The ability of gangs to rule through fear, intimidation and murder can only be stopped if all spheres of government, law enforcement, the criminal justice system and communities work together. 

"When we present a united front, we will push back the boundaries of gangsterism and succeed in taking back our communities."

He called on law abiding residents to continue making use of the Illegal Firearms Hotline: 078 330 9333. 

"There is a reward of R10 000 to individuals who provide accurate information on the illegal distribution of firearms," said Fritz.

African News Agency/ANA