Police Minister Bheki Cele, on a tour of the Mitchells Plain base camp, gave figures for arrests since the army’s deployment but couldn't explain the high murder rate. Picture: Sisonke Mlamla/Cape Argus

Cape Town - In spite of the army's deployment to the gang-ridden areas, murder rates in the province remain unchanged.

Police Minister Bheki Cele, on a tour of the Mitchells Plain base camp, gave figures for arrests since the army’s deployment but couldn't explain the high murder rate.

He said a range of socio-economic factors impede policing efforts in the communities plagued by serious violent crimes. 

“The challenge of learners who do not attend school further perpetuates the cycle of violence as they fall into the hands of gang leaders and criminals. Poor lighting, access roads and lack of formal housing are but some factors that adversely affect the policing of certain communities," Cele said.

Premier Alan Winde said a total of 47 murders were recorded by forensics services over the weekend, “with 27 shootings, 13 stabbings and seven murders by other means in the metro region of the province”.

He said among the dead were a mother from Kuils River who was stabbed by her teenage son, and a 29-year-old taxi driver who was shot in the face multiple times.

“This weekend was another devastating weekend in the metro. We also saw the tragic shooting of Sadiqah Newman, who was eight months pregnant, in Manenberg and the discovery of Meghan Cremer’s body on Thursday. Both of these young women had their lives cut short by senseless violence. We need to put a stop to this,” Winde said.

“We welcome the fact that police made swift arrests in both of these cases and hope that the criminal justice system will do its work to ensure that those responsible for these deaths are removed from society and unable to hurt more people.

"We will be writing to police management to request a full report back on the role and effectiveness of the SANDF since their deployment, as well as police’s plans to fight crime in the province going forward,” Winde said.

During his visit Cele said that there were 1 004 suspects arrested for various crimes on the Cape Flats. These included murder, attempted murder, armed robberies and hijackings.

He said tracing operations resulted in the arrest of 806 wanted suspects, for a series of crimes including domestic violence, armed robbery, hijacking, and assault causing grievous bodily harm.

“Others are behind bars for possession of firearms and ammunition as well as dealing in drugs and alcohol,” Cele said.

On the gang front, Cele said: “We continue making inroads in dealing with gang violence. 

Currently 20 members of a notorious gang are before the Western Cape High Court. "They are charged in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.”

He also supplied statistics for weapons confiscated during their operations which included 45 firearms, 1 036 rounds of ammunition and 78 knives.

Tafelsig Neighbourhood Watch chairperson Ivan Williams said they were happy with the army deployment. However, he said there was an increase in robberies and killings by stabbings in their area.

Senior researcher: Justice and violence prevention at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Dr Andrew Faull, said considering the numerous factors driving the high rates of both gang and interpersonal violence in affected communities, such as child neglect, domestic conflict, poverty and unemployment, substance abuse, organised crime, weak state services, “it isn’t clear why the army was deployed”.

Faull said it was generally accepted that crime and violence cannot be stopped by police (or military) deployment alone.

"The unfortunate situation reached the pinnacle during the weekend of May 31 to June 2 recording 73 murders. That was followed by shooting incidents in July that sent shock waves in Phillipi East when 13 murders happened within 48 hours," Cele explained. Video: Sisonke Mlamla/Cape Argus
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