Police Anti Gang Unit members are on the scene where six of their members were shot in Samora Machel. Picture Phandulwazi Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Parliament - Gangsterism and other forms of organised crime pose a threat to the legitimacy and the stability of the state, the state security ministry warned on Thursday.

"It is actually our observation that if we don't deal decisively with gangsterism, it is likely to undermine the legitimacy of the state, as we have heard in the complaints of people not only in the Western Cape but throughout. We are talking about PE, the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth, Westbury in Johannesburg," Deputy State Security Minister Zizi Kodwa told reporters in Cape Town.

Kodwa's remark came a week after Police Minister Bheki Cele announced that the army would be deployed to parts of the Cape Flats to help the police combat a surge in gang-related crime, including murders.

The acting director-general of state security, Loyiso Jafta, concurred that there were already signs of the erosion of the state by entrenched gangsterism.

"The truth is, and we have already seen elements of this, it does displace the formal structures of the state and once it happens, those who are benefiting, like getting health care, education, etc, etc, will have a diminished view of the state, but those who are standing outside of it will also see a very, very weak state and therefore the legitimacy and the integrity of the state will be severely subtracted from."

He added: "But further to that, if you allow it to mature then it starts corrupting law enforcement authorities, it starts corrupting the judiciary, it starts corrupting the legislature and before you know it, you have a complete narco state and once that happens it is very, very difficult to reverse the effects of that," Jafta said at a media briefing ahead of the department's budget vote in Parliament.

"So it is not a minor threat at all, the issue of gangsterism and organised crime. You can put these people in prison, before you know they run the prisons just like they run communities in some areas, not necessarily the country but elsewhere in the world."

He said the intelligence department was helping the military, police and other structures to investigate a "diverse and complex" range of organised crime activities.

"We are investigating everything and anything that is happening and we are working with the relevant law enforcement authorities, we will be recovering the assets, be it money or anything, moveable assets, immoveable assets."

Cele's public announcement of the deployment of the military to ten areas stretching from Kraaifontein to Philippi East in Cape Town has raised concerned that it served as an early warning to gangsters and that they would relocate to other areas surrounding Cape Town.

African News Agency (ANA)