The deployment of the army to gang-infested areas on the Cape Flats was a temporary measure and was not sustainable, said Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Picture: Sisonke Mlamla/Cape Argus
Cape Town - The deployment of the army to gang-infested areas on the Cape Flats was a temporary measure and was not sustainable, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Tuesday.

Mapisa-Nqakula was answering questions in the National Council of Provinces during an engagement between MPs and ministers in the peace and security cluster.

She said the SANDF was never designed or aimed to be utilised internally - “only when state control and authority is being undermined to the extent that it endangers the lives of the citizens of South Africa”.

“The SANDF was mandated to deploy as part of Operation Prosper or Operation Lockdown from July 12 to September 16.

“It must be taken into consideration that stabilising a hostile environment is not an overnight and instant occurrence. The SANDF remains committed to address and perform its mandate within the given task.”

Mapisa-Nqakula said effective policing had nothing to do with the challenges of the Western Cape, namely socio-economic issues. “For as long as we do not address the hunger, poverty and the conditions under which our people live, we will continue to face these kinds of problems.”

Senior researcher in justice and violence-prevention at the Institute for Security Studies Dr Andrew Faull said considering the numerous factors driving the high rates of gang and interpersonal violence in the affected communities - child neglect, domestic conflict, poverty and unemployment, substance abuse, organised crime, weak state services - “it isn’t clear why the SANDF has been deployed”.

Faull said it was generally accepted that crime and violence could not be stopped by police (or military) deployment alone. “But the police remain central to ending endemic violence.

“As the embodiment of the state’s claim to the monopoly on force, their role is to ensure social stability so that crime generators can be addressed. But the two must occur together and be united by an intentional, clear plan.”

He said there was evidence that hot spot policing was effective, especially when coupled with problem-solving initiatives. “But hot spots are not high-crime police precincts.

“They are the small parts of such precincts in which harm is most common. For each hot spot, interventions should be adapted, including police tactics, to suppress violence while other agencies focus on addressing local enablers,” Faull said.

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Cape Argus