File photo: Henk Kruger / African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – As soldiers pack up and leave the Cape Flats today following their two-month deployment some residents have urged the SANDF to extend the patrolling of gang-infested areas because there is still a lot of “work that needs to be done”

The ball is now in Police Minister Bheki Cele and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s court to advise President Cyril Ramaphosa on whether the army deployment should be extended or terminated.

Ramaphosa had given the justice, crime-prevention and security cluster (JCPS) the green light for the deployment of the army and 1320 soldiers had been stationed at 10 crime hotspots since July 18.

Cele’s spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said on Sunday that they were assessing the impact the SANDF has had during its stay.

“Various security agencies will have to sit and assess the situation on the ground, and determine whether there is a need to extend the deployment. 

"Should the deployment be extended, presidential minutes will then be prepared and Parliament informed accordingly,” Themba said.

SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said according to their assessments so far, operations have been successful as areas were “cleaned-up” and several arrests led to the confiscation of drugs and firearms.

Community Policing Forum (CPF) groups and residents on Sunday urged the JCPS cluster to keep the army on the ground so that they can provide solutions on how to fight crime.

Philippi East community leader Ncedo Marikeni said some areas still needed to be stabilised.

“When the army was deployed the public was informed that the operations would not only focus on foot and vehicle patrols, but also include strong points in hotspots, identification of substance-manufacturing labs and any other operations that might be determined from time to time.

“Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case in our area; we only saw roadblocks. We are still dealing with a lot of gun-related violence, especially on weekends.”

Marikeni said areas including the Marikana informal settlement and Lower Crossroads need to be stabilised.

“In Marikana, at least three women were raped. One was also badly beaten. There is only so much we can do as community leaders,” said Marikeni.

Hanover Park CPF chairperson Ebrahim Abrahams wanted to know if there was a long-term plan in place should the deployment not be extended.

“Should the SANDF stay, we are saying the army should be used to tactically facilitate improved crime intelligence and better policing by local authorities. 

"As safety community structures, we were never involved and it would be a good idea if we were this time around. We know our communities, and what would help to restore peace in the long run,” said Abrahams.

Manenberg Safety Forum chairperson Roegchanda Pascoe said Manenberg had been more volatile than ever, with gunshots being fired as rival gangs continued fighting.

“Manenberg is a red zone. Children still duck and dive bullets in classes and on the streets. The ambulances can't come here without a police escort. 

"The deployment cost a good couple of million but it’s been ineffective. More people are dying,” Pascoe said.

Cape Times