Police minister Fikile Mbalula File picture Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
Cape Town - After a string of promises by Police Minister Fikile Mbalula that the army will be deployed to gang areas in Cape Town for the festive season, there is still no sign of any soldiers.

President Jacob Zuma also has not received any request from the Defence Department for troops to be deployed. Zuma’s spokesperson, Bongani Nqgulunga, told the Cape Argus that the president’s office had not received any request to send the army into gang-ravaged communities in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

“The Presidency has not yet received the request from the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans,” Nqgulunga said.

Siphiwe Dlamini, spokesperson for the Defence Department, referred queries to Brigadier General Mafi Ngobozi, from the SANDF, who said they were waiting for instructions.

Read: Mbalula's promise: Army will come to Cape Flats before Christmas

“We are still waiting, but the relevant ministers are dealing with this. If the instruction comes we will immediately activate our members and deploy where needs be. The National Joint Operations structure will decide on that,” he said.

Mbalula’s spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga insisted that the minister had asked Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s office to approach the president. Only Zuma can approve the deployment of the troops within the borders of the country.

Deputy Police Minister Bongani Mkongi said he had spoken to Zuma about the issue, “and he agreed”.

“The president was one of the very first persons to know of this. We cannot give the time and dates for the deployment as gangsters will plan accordingly. This matter is on the table and gangsters are going to be caught off guard. The SANDF will be helping the police, they will be amplifying the work of police,” he said.

Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo, spokesperson for National Police Commissioner General Khehla John Sitole, said the troops had always been part of their operational plans.

“They are always there for us to call on them. But the national commissioner has made it clear that he first wants to give his own interventions an opportunity before calling in the army.

"Nonetheless they have always been there to help us with crime operations,” Naidoo said.

File picture: Henk Kruger/ANA

Nyanga Community Policing Forum (CPF) chairperson Martin Makasi said crime continued unabated, but he had hope.

“I don’t think the minister lied about the army deployment, he visited the area in October and he said he was waiting for the president to give the green light."

Steenberg CPF chairperson Mark Rossouw said last Friday that a shooting broke out in Choir Street, where five people were injured.

“The army will really assist many of communities who are also dealing with gang violence. We certainly hope that they can assist,” he said.

Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said he remained extremely hopeful and it was too early to say the minister had lied.

“He made it public and we asked him and he said it will take place next week.

"I am not certain whether the army will be deployed in assistance of the police, but we certainly have not yet seen the minister make good on his promise to have the SANDF deployed in gang-affected areas.”

DA Western Cape spokesperson on community safety Mireille Wenger said that at the crux of the calls for the army to be deployed was insufficient policing.

Cape Argus