Guest Column

Call for the army to be deployed in crime-ridden areas in the city of Cape Town

2018-07-20 15:31
Mmusi Maimane at the DA march. (Zukile Daniel, News24)

Mmusi Maimane at the DA march. (Zukile Daniel, News24)

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Mmusi Maimane

Dear Mr President,

I write to you in light of yesterday's community march in Cape Town, whereby thousands of residents banded together to call for urgent intervention by national government to stem the scourge of gang-related crime on the Cape Flats. 

The call from concerned residents was clear: The South African Police Service (SAPS) is chronically under-resourced, and therefore unable to tackle crime in the area – particularly gang-related crime. For instance, in Nyanga – the murder capital of South Africa – there is one police officer to every 628 residents while the average for the country is one officer for every 369 people. Moreover, the City of Cape Town has one officer for every 560 people, which is far fewer police than the rest of South Africa.

Therefore, the people of Nyanga, Manenberg, Gugulethu and surrounding communities joined the call for the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to the worst-hit gang areas. The deployment of the army need not be permanent nor replace SAPS. Rather it would be a temporary supplement to SAPS so the police can investigate and make arrests. The army’s function should include:

• Assisting with blockades during SAPS operations;
• Escorting government service providers such as emergency medical services;
• Protecting infrastructure such as railway lines, taxi ranks and bus stations;
• Securing school commuter routes, as well as school after care facilities; and
• Securing clinics, social development offices and other essential services.

As president of the republic, I am sure you can appreciate the crime situation that is plaguing our country. South Africans live in perpetual fear of becoming victims of crime and becoming just another statistic. Across South Africa we are losing the fight against crime, and nowhere is this more evident than in Cape Town. 

Therefore, the actions and pronouncements made yesterday by a member of your executive and your government, deputy minister of police Bongi Mkongi, are of serious concern. Mr Mkongi was sent by your government to receive a memorandum on behalf of the people and to present it to yourself. As mentioned, this memorandum formalised the call for the deployment of the army, in terms of section 201 of our Constitution. 

Instead of dealing with the very real and serious issue at hand, Mr Mkongi refused to accept the memorandum, and launched a racialised, personal attack on me, my wife, and other black members of the Democratic Alliance (DA). This is a clear example of systemic racism that is pervasive in our society. It should be condemned with the contempt it deserves. 

It cannot be the modus operandi of your government to turn to race to divert attention from a failure of basic governance. In a week in which we celebrated Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday, and had former US president Barack Obama, on our shores, the actions of Mr Mkongi do not reflect well. We cannot clap for Mandela on one day, and act in direct contravention of the very values he embodied and stood for the next. This is not the South Africa we want.

I therefore call on you to publicly condemn Mr Mkongi's comments; indicate whether any action will be taken against this member of your government; and clarify for the nation whether such racialised comments represent the views of your government and your political party.

Since Mr Mkongi did not accept the memorandum, and therefore did not relay it to you, I use this opportunity to call on you to exercise your power in terms of section 201 of the Constitution and deploy the army to assist the police in tacking crime in Cape Town.

The residents of gang-ridden communities have made it clear that they want the army to help protect them. Your government has a duty to protect South Africans from crime and criminals, and I urge you to act accordingly.

- Mmusi Maimane is leader of the DA.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    saps  |  mmusi mai­mane  |  cape town  |  crime  |  police


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