Premier Helen Zille. File picture: Michael Walker/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille says army deployment in gang infested areas is still necessary to crack down on gang and drug related crimes.

She was delivering the annual State of the Province Address (SOPA) which marks the opening of the Western Cape Legislature.

Zille said: “Last year the Western Cape Cabinet resolved that the army should be brought in as a short-term emergency measure, to support policing in gang hotspots. This is entirely justified, as gangs have in some areas effectively usurped the authority of the state and the conventional law enforcement agencies”.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula announced last year that he had requested the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to be deployed in the Western Cape and Gauteng to help crack down on violent crimes.

Zille said despite Mbalula’s promises, the army had not been deployed, including specialised gang and drug units as promised by former president Jacob Zuma in 2016.

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“Mbalula recently offered the astounding excuse that the SANDF would not be deployed in the short term because SAPS are in fact on top of the gang crisis,” said Zille.

She said she had written to Mbalula to explain his statement that gangsterism has “neutralised” in the City.

Zille also called on Mbalula to reinstate specialised gang units.

The SAPS’ 2017-2018 annual performance plan plans to reduce personnel from 194 431 in 2016/2017 to 191 431 in the next two years. This is said to be due to budget constraints and would lead to a decrease of 3 000 police officers.

Zille said this comes at a time when SAPS is severely under-resourced.

“Most crime in the Cape Metro is concentrated in just 7% of all precincts, the same communities where police to population ratios are far higher than the national average,

"We have pointed this out year after year, and requested that it be addressed in our formal policing needs and priorities submissions, to no avail,” said Zille.

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