On Saturday police offered a reward of R70 000 as various community leaders and a top cop weighed in on the deployment of the army to crime-ridden areas on the Cape Flats, a last-ditch effort by the government and Police Minister Bheki Cele to take back the streets from the gangs, as the death toll spiked past the 2000 mark in six months.
The reward is for information that could lead to the arrests of six men they believe are responsible for the killing of six young women, aged between 18 and 26, in a house in Marcus Garvey informal settlement on Friday night last week.
But the community in Philippi East and surrounds live in fear and remain mum about the weekend killing spree which left 11 dead in separate shootings.
The troops landed at Air Force Base Ysterplaat on Friday and were undergoing orientation to “get them ready” for operations.
SANDF spokesperson Brigadier-General Mafi Mgobozi said the soldiers were “briefed” about the “conditions on the ground” in the areas where they would be deployed. He would not confirm how long the process would take or how many soldiers would be deployed for “security reasons”.
“We just don’t go in - the soldiers have to be briefed first to get them ready,” Mgobozi said. The soldiers were expected to assist the police operations in 10 hot spots including Bishop Lavis, Delft, Elsies River, Kraaifontein, Khayelitsha, Manenberg, Mfuleni, Mitchells Plain, Nyanga and Philippi.
The military’s arrival coincides with a two-day crime summit in Paarl this weekend to nail down solutions to crime and gang violence. The summit theme “Building a United Front in the Fight Against Crime”, had more than 500 delegates in attendance including community policing forums and Cele, as well as Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu.
On Saturday the police released the names of six men wanted for questioning in the shooting of six Philippi East women. The people sought by the police include Siphenkosi Gwazekhaya, also known as Bhoyoyo; Shane Madolo; Thamsanqa Lande; Lubabalo Phethelo; Onke Thafu and Oyam Hlamu, also known as Mashesha. The following day five men, some under the age of 26, were also killed in the area.
As news spread of the murders, the police have been under pressure. But the deployment of the army has been met with mixed reactions, with some slamming it as “controversial” and “desperate”.
The Anglican Church Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba described the Philippi East murders as particularly shocking “against the backdrop of what has long been an appalling and unacceptable” level of gangsterism, violence and crime.
“I know that communities have been calling for the army, but using soldiers for police work when they have no practical experience brings real dangers.
“The army must follow police rules of engagement such as the use of minimum force and the police must use the resources freed up to investigate the violence, arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” Makgoba said.
Social justice activist and Anglican priest Father Michael Lapsley called the deployment of the soldiers a “desperate” act and cautioned that it needed to be handled carefully.
“Maybe it’s become necessary as a short-term measure because communities have lost faith in the police.
“But in a democracy which many people fought at a great cost, many people will recall unacceptable things which were carried out under the guise of the state of emergency.”
Both clerics called for vigorous policing in partnership with communities to deal with the challenges.
Makgoba said: “We need jobs, we need equality of opportunity, we need respect for one another’s dignity and property. And while I am hopeful that our country has the capacity to address our problems, if we are to flourish we