Cape Town – A Tactical Response Team (TRT) attached to Operation Thunder was called up on Sunday afternoon to deal with information about a possible robbery in the upmarket suburb of Tokai.
A group of TRT officers armed with rifles and wearing bulletproof vests and black helmets subsequently helped to arrest three suspects.
Bishop Lavis, among many other Cape Flats suburbs, wishes there could be a similar, speedy response to deal with the armed gangs spreading murder and mayhem in their communities – let alone a robbery.
Abdul Karriem Matthews, of the Total Shutdown Movement, who lives in Bishop Lavis, told the Cape Times on Tuesday: "It doesn't make sense at all. Three cop vans would have been more than enough to deal with that armed robbery.
"Here you have armed gangs terrorising communities and yet we have to beg for a Tactical Response Team. It's completely over the top."
Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said: "At about 15:30 (on Sunday) three suspects entered the premises in Weaver Bird, Tokai.
"The suspects were being monitored after information was received. Suspects were cornered inside the house by a Tactical Response Team, which resulted in the arrest and recovery of three firearms.
"The suspects are due to appear in the Wynberg Magistrate's Court on charges of house robbery, possession of three firearms, possession of a prohibited firearm and illegal possession of ammunition once charged."
Matthews said: "The Bishop Lavis police station is a very huge police station. It was once the primary training academy for the SAPS in the Western Cape. So there are a lot of cops at that station.
"But just down the road where we require the Tactical Response Team in Valhalla Park, which is the bad section of Bishop Lavis, the leader of the 28s gang, Ralph Stanfield, actually lives there.
"He is the one who recently gave the order to the firm which he controls and runs to loot the local shops in the area because they were refusing to pay protection money. Last night the shops were still closed and those people haven't been arrested.
"So why is it when gang leaders and drug dealers are living less than two minutes' drive from the police station these people are allowed to operate with impunity?
"The reason why we need a Tactical Response Team is because we don't actually trust local cops to do the job. So you will have anecdotal things happening where people say they saw a police vehicle going into a drug den while there is no obvious raid taking place.
"Some kind of investigation needs to be launched into the local police station.
"Across the Cape Flats, not just Bishop Lavis, the residents of particular areas are hesitant to provide tip-offs to the cops because they believe the cops are working with the gang leaders.
"And that's the reason why we need a heavily armed Tactical Response Team to be permanently deployed in order to deal decisively with the gang leaders and drug dealers.
"The problem is they are not listening to us. Tactical Response Team operations haven't happened at all in Bishop Lavis."
Commenting on the response from the authorities to the Total Shutdown Movement's demands, to stop the gender-based violence and crime in their communities, among other things – due to the Anti-Gang Unit and the SANDF being ineffectual – Matthews said: "There has been absolutely no response from the authorities whatsoever.
"The next strategy is to get more committees on board and the idea is we will hit them with another shutdown and another shutdown until we force them to listen.
"This time around we will be working with a trade union federation Saftu and the idea is we will get them to arrange for a strike notice which will allow for the organised working class to come out in support to accompany the shutdown."