ANC Western Cape leaders Faiez Jacobs and Khaya Magaxa address the media on their signature campaign against gang violence. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA

Cape Town - The ANC says communities should be engaged in battling gang violence on the Cape Flats, where battles over drug turf has turned communities into war zones.

Speaking at a press conference earlier on Thursday, ANC Western Cape secretary Faiez Jacobs said the party would embark on Safety Signature Campaign to combat gangsterism.

And instead of fancy technology, Jacobs called on the City of Cape Town to “re-prioritise” its safety and security budget that is biased towards community participation.

Jacobs was referring to the City of Cape Town’s implementation of Shot Stopper technology which gives officials the ability to detect and trace the location of gun fire through specialised equipment.

Thus far the technology has been implemented in Hanover Park and Manenberg - two areas where rival gangs have been using firearms to entrench their stranglehold on the illegal drug market.

“These areas are among those that have experienced high levels of gang violence and shooting incidents, hence the decision to deploy the system there,” said the City of Cape Town’s mayco member for Social Development and Safety and Security JP Smith.

The system will cost the City of Cape Town R12 million over three years, and Smith said it would be expanded.

The ANC also called on national police authorities and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to reinstate the specialised gang units which were shelved during the time of former commissioner Jackie Selebi.

“We want to call on our national government to help us to ensure that the City and the Province help us with the anti-gang strategy. 

“We want to ensure that the strategy is comprehensive, that we don’t just look at the law enforcement but we also look at community mobilisation...an integrated approach on gangsterism, and the Cape Flats it's also socioeconomic,” said Jacobs.

He said the campaign was evidence that the ANC wanted to work with all social partners to eradicate gangsterism.

“Unfortunately, or fortunately the people have chosen the DA to be our provincial government and City government, so theirs is a responsibility to ensure that they stop blaming the police, and they stop blaming everybody except themselves but take hands with us to deal with the scourge of crime and gangsterism in our townships,” said Jacobs.

The ANC also called ward councillors to be more visible, and lead the fight against crime, highlighting the case of DA Belhar councillor Willie Jaftha who was suspended in 2015 after he testified in mitigation of sentence for a convicted gangster in the Western Cape High Court.

In response, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato defended his administration’s track record.

“We have been calling for improved policing resources and deployment to stem the tide against crime, specifically the reintroduction and capacitation of the specialised drug and gun units as promised by ANC President and President of the Republic, Jacob Zuma, more than 18 months ago.

"If the ANC in the province was sincere with their approach they would have familiarised themselves with the facts of what the Western Cape Government and the Department of Community Safety has been doing to address the issues our communities face through strategic partnerships and targeted interventions along a whole-of-society approach. 

"This is guided by the Community Safety Act this government introduced in 2013 to solidify not only our oversight mandate but also to support, in law, both Neighbourhood Watches (NHW) and Community Policing Forums (CPFs), as well as to establish the office of the Western Cape Police Ombudsman,” said Plato.

He said it was unfathomable that Mbalula would cut the police force by 3000 while the most needy areas remained under-resourced.

Politics Bureau