Kiano Jones plays with his dog Roger in Manenberg. Cape Flats residents have expressed mixed feelings over the deployment of the SANDF to the area in a bid to curb high levels of crime. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - It was a quiet and peaceful night for many areas on the Cape Flats as the presence of the army saw a lull in the sound of gunshots over the weekend.

Manenberg activist Roegchanda Pascoe said: “On Thursday, the army was in full force in Manenberg and Hanover Park. For one day people in Manenberg and Hanover Park felt safe to step out of their homes and freely walked the streets.

"I received tons of WhatsApp messages from people in Manenberg and Hanover Park saying for one night they slept peacefully without been woken by the continued sounds of gunfire.”

The SANDF has been deployed in crime hot spots areas of Manenberg, Bishop Lavis, Delft, Nyanga, Mitchells Plain, Elsies River, Mfuleni, Kraaifontein and Philippi to assist the police for the next three months. 

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde welcomed the SANDF in assisting with police operations at the weekend and said that data showed that the majority of crime occurred over weekends.

Pascoe said while the army was in the area, community representatives, the SAPS, the City and all other role-players needed to work out a long-term solution.

She emphasised that this pilot plan must be tested,and once the army had left, a practical plan should be on the cards.

Former Mitchells Plain community policing forum chairperson Michael Jacobs underlined that the army was not a silver bullet. He added that drug addiction was rife in Mitchells Plain and one of the main reasons youngsters ended up in gangs.

“The Department of Social Development should consider bringing rehabilitation closer to home. Our people cannot afford drug rehabilitation and thus it should consider utilising schools and community centres over weekends to render rehabilitation. We can quell the scourge of gangsterism if we succeed in rehabilitating our youth hooked on drugs.”

Mayco member for community safety JP Smith said the military was just a tool to calm down areas and allow the police to do effective investigation.

“What we need is a higher conviction rate to make sure that criminals are taken off the streets and locked up. 

“We have the situation where criminals are becoming bolder, go on as if they are untouchable and shoot at police officers.”

Lennit Max, former adviser to Police Minister Bheki Cele, drafted a Western Cape Service Service Delivery Strategy to complement the police strategic operations. A copy has been sent to Winde.

“To give effect to the concept and the unique crime challenges… the provincial Western Cape Service Delivery Forum will consist of the provincial police, metro police, criminal justice cluster, all provincial departments, Business Against Crime, Western Cape Business Chamber, NGOs, Metrorail, Santaco Western Cape and faith-based organisations.

“This forum has to develop a plan which will identify the causes of crime, the cause of action required and identity who will be the responsible person to implement the strategy. The objective is to reduce crime, crime prevention through environmental design, ensuring safer human settlements and improve community police relationship in order to increase in information to act pro-actively,” Max said.

Winde said he appreciates the efforts of people and community grouping in contributing possible solutions in the fight against crime. He said together with the Department of Community Safety they would study Max’s  submission and others to create a sustainable response to crime.

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