Minister of Police Bheki Cele. File photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA).

CAPE TOWN - Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Monday crime levels in the Western Cape were stabilising amid the deployment of the military around Cape Town and the police were committed to reducing these further.

Cele said the successes of Operation Lockdown, the code name for the deployment of the military around Cape Town, included the arrest of 806 wanted criminals and the apprehension of 20 notorious gang members. 

"On the gang front, we continue making inroads in dealing with gang violence, currently 20 members of a notorious gang are before the Western Cape High Court. They are charged in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act," he told a media briefing in Mitchells Plain.

Police and military have confiscated 45 firearms, 1,036 rounds of ammunition, 78 knives and an assortment of drugs, the minister said.

He said it was still "early days" in terms of the intervention but also cautioned that the deployment of the South African National Defence Force was a temporary measure, and said police had to prepare for the aftermath of the military assistance.

"We acknowledge that crime is stabilising however we would have loved to see the figures dropping even further, with concerted effort we are working towards reducing the figures even further. It’s important to note Operation Lockdown remains a temporary initiative," he said.

"On the policing front we need to prepare ourselves for a period when these additional forces are withdrawn."

Cele said in the meanwhile more operations were set to take place in hot spots.

He added that policing was hampered by socio-economic conditions that created a breeding ground for crime.

"We have also learnt that policing efforts will be quite meaningful if the generators of crime are addressed. Illegal liquor outlets continue to aggravate serious violent crimes. The proliferation of illegal firearms count for the majority of murder and attempted murder cases recorded.

A range of socio-economic factors impede policing efforts in the communities plagued by serious violent crimes.  The challenge of learners who do not attend school further perpetuates the cycle of violence as they fall into the hands of gang leaders and criminals. Poor lighting, access roads and lack of formal housing are but some factors that adversely affect the policing of certain communities."

The minister spoke after a weekend in which 47 people were murdered in the Cape Town metropolitan area.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said he would write to police management to ascertain how it intends to deal with the violent crime crisis.

Cele noted that the decision to deploy the military was taken after 73 people were killed in the area on the last weekend in May.

African News Agency (ANA)