Mthethwa, Zille join forces on gangs

2013-08-22 16:29

National government, the Western Cape, and the City of Cape Town will join forces to curb gang violence in the province, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has said.

Agreement had been reached on a “multi-disciplinary approach” to deal with gang violence in Manenberg and murder and crime spikes in Nyanga and Worcester, he told reporters today in Cape Town.

Premier Helen Zille earlier said there was agreement to work together “as broadly as we can”.

“But, my belief is that until we get the specialised anti-drug and anti-gang units back and until we can bring the army in as a peacekeeping force when specific drug dealers are released from prison and there is a massive spike in gang violence... unless we can protect communities in those situations it will be an extremely difficult situation.”

Several Western Cape schools were forced to shut last week because of fears more children would be caught in the crossfire between warring drug dealers and gangsters.

Zille has in the past criticised government for refusing to deploy the army to Manenberg, which has been the scene of bloody gang battles.

After speaking to reporters, Zille left for another meeting before Mthethwa and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille arrived for a media briefing.

Mthethwa said: “There is a meeting of minds particularly at the leadership level that what we are dealing with is something that is deep-seated... socio-economic problems which are affecting all of us.”

He said police officers were out and about in Manenberg and had stabilised the situation.

On deployment of the army, Mthethwa said: “There were misgivings from the provincial government... about the soldiers not being around. We said no, the soldiers cannot be their main issue in dealing with crime.”

Mthethwa said deploying the army would not address the causes of gangsterism and drug abuse.

“We are looking forward [to working with] particularly local government... let’s go to these communities, meet the communities, do our bit to work together,” he said.

De Lille said: “There’s certainly a meeting of minds at national, provincial, and local government that something drastic has to be done to deal with the scourge of drugs and gangsterism in the City of Cape Town.

“We agree that the approach to deal with gangs and drugs is not just a response of safety and security, but it must be a multi-disciplinary approach including social development, health and other departments within government.”

The City of Cape Town and the police ministry would jointly meet with those affected by the violence.

“I’m very hopeful we’ll see us going out together to give that hope to the community... to send out a message that we are working together,” said De Lille.

“Soon, in consultation with the minister’s [Mthethwa’s] office, we will be moving into those key hotspots in the Western Cape, especially Cape Town.”

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