Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz. File picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA).

Cape Town – Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz has called for a "united front" to address the challenges of violent crime in the Western Cape, dismissing calls for him to be axed as "cheap politicking".

The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) said on Wednesday: "The Cape Flats in the Western Cape province continues to be a war zone, with innocent lives being lost and communities being destroyed. 

"Minister (Bheki) Cele and MEC Fritz, as the accountable political leadership, must face the consequences for their failure to implement working solutions for the impasse of ridding our communities from gangs and crime. 

"We urge President (Cyril) Ramaphosa and Premier (Alan) Winde to heed our call and replace both minister Cele and MEC Fritz with better leaders."  

In response, Fritz told the Cape Times: "Efforts to bring down the high murder rate in the province are an ongoing challenge that requires the collective efforts of all of the Western Cape’s citizens. 

"It should be noted that while a significant number of murders are gang-related, many result from interpersonal conflict and violence. 

"The army was deployed to assist SAPS, Metro Police and other law enforcement agencies in stabilising and pushing back the previously high levels of gang-related crime in our communities, and there is strong evidence that this ongoing strategy is having a positive effect. 

"We call on all organisations, stakeholders and responsible citizens to work with us in ensuring that we maintain this momentum going forward. 

"Rather than point fingers in pursuit of cheap politicking, we must all work together to ensure that gangs can no longer operate without question. 

"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. 

"The provincial government, under the leadership of Premier Winde, is finalising the roll-out of a comprehensive support programme that targets all 10 gang stations with a raft of integrated government support and services that focus on youth and those most at risk of gang influence. 

"This support programme will work with the ongoing stabilisation efforts of the SANDF, SAPS and the Metro Police. 

"The support programme will include prioritising young people from the 10 priority gang stations for the January 2020 intake into the highly effective Chrysalis Youth Academy programme. 

"Chrysalis graduates will play a critical role in providing alternative role models for young people and will be involved in a number of youth-related programmes in their communities. 

"Furthermore, I am working with the three high schools in Hanover Park on a comprehensive roll-out of youth support programmes that focus on keeping young people in school; whilst addressing their psycho-social challenges and providing career guidance. This programme will be expanded to other schools within the 10 gang stations. 

"Given the success of the deployment of 100 Metro Police in Bonteheuwel, there are also plans underway to extend this deployment to other gang hot spots in partnership with the City of Cape Town. 

"The Department of Community Safety will continue to monitor the joint operations of the SANDF and SAPS; and, through our Court Watching Briefs, ensure that arrests made during the joint operations result in convictions."

Cape Times