CAPE TOWN - Nearly 600 people have been shot dead while more than 1000 were wounded in 442 mass shootings in just 30 months in the province.
These figures reported between June 1, 2019 and December 31, 2021 were recently released following a provincial legislature question, and do not include the recent killings in Khayelitsha where at least 18 people have been shot dead in one month.
Six of those were in Site C, Khayelitsha on Sunday where an unknown number of gunmen opened fire.
The “appalling” statistics reveals that 563 were shot dead while 1 063 were wounded in the mass shootings. Mass shootings are where more than three people are killed.
Gang-related shootings topped the list of the motives behind the incidents, followed by retaliation/revenge, robbery, taxi-related and attack on law enforcement officers (on duty).
Delft and Elsiesriver police stations had the same number of incidents at 34 followed by Khayelitsha with 32, Philippi East at 22 and Mfuleni with 21.
Reacting to the numbers Criminology expert and senior researcher at UCT’s Centre of Criminology, Dr Simon Howell, said the statistics were appalling.
“The figures are obviously appalling and indicative of both the numerical increase and qualitative entrenchment in organised criminal arrangements and entities in South Africa communities. The growth of these is a function of a variety of drivers, not least socio-economic marginalisation, political exclusion and the need for a cohesive identity in the facelessness of poverty.
“Taking this into account the report is worrying as it displays little if any nuance or specific understanding of the issues at play, and assumes much - the category of ‘gang’ presupposes a homogeneous arrangement of small criminal groups which is in no way reflective of the great differences and functions of various gang arrangements both in Cape Town and South Africa as a whole,” he said.
This lack of nuance and specificity results in generalised policing responses which have been shown to have little long term effect, said Howell.
He said targeted and effective policing required a more detailed understanding to prevent more such incidents.
“In short, while it is useful that this has been brought to parliament’s attention, and while SAPS is clearly making inroads into engaging with the criminal organisations, there remains a lack of specific understanding around the gangs and how they function which would ultimately be needed to undertake targeted interventions - whether policing or otherwise,” said Howell.
Police Minister Bheki Cele visited Site C on Tuesday where fearing residents told him of their concerns in their community.
Five of the victims were declared dead on the scene, the sixth person, Mthokozisi Mhlakaza aged 37, died at the Khayelitsha hospital.
While police did not respond to questions on the statistics by deadline on Tuesday, Western Cape Police Commissioner Thembisile Patekile said some of those killed on Sunday had a history of crime and one of them has been out on bail for three times.
“Five of those bodies have been identified; only one is still unknown. When you look at him you may think that he is a foreigner, a Somalian national because of his appearance and we are still talking to other communities to identify the remaining victim,” said Patekile.
Cele said some of the resources brought into the provinces to fight crime were taken to affluent areas, not in the townships.
“This province is the first one that we sent the Anti Gang Unit (AGU) and last year we paid R6 million extra for the Cape Town AGU and that is the money you don’t pay on others. The resources that he ( MEC of Community Safety and Police Oversight Reagan Allen) is talking about here you find that they go to affluent areas. All the police are there and they don’t come here. I have instructed the national commissioner that they must go and fix the issue of this province. People must go where they are needed.”
He said that the time has come to say that the people of the Western Cape need their government at all levels to work together to improve their lives and stop political point-scoring.
“For now, I think we need to come together to fight crime, including the environmental design you are talking about here,”Cele said.
Anyone with information about the recent murder can anonymously contact Crime Stop on 0860010111 or SMS Crime Line on 32211.