Stabilisation unit let loose

2015-07-28 15:41
The 90 members of the stabilisation unit gather in formation at Vygieskraal Stadium on Friday.

Earl Haupt

The 90 members of the stabilisation unit gather in formation at Vygieskraal Stadium on Friday. PHOTO: Earl Haupt

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A specialised unit of 90 trained law enforcement officials have been let loose on the Cape Flats.

This is how the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government plan to wrestle back control of the Manenberg area.

The stabilisation unit, launched at Vygieskraal Stadium on Friday, will also be deployed to Bishop Lavis, Ottery and Hanover Park.

They will be responsible for law enforcement at the coalface of the gang violence which has plagued these suburbs.

The initiative forms part of extensive plans the provincial government and City have for the upliftment of the greater Manenberg area (see pages 3 and 5).

Dan Plato, Western Cape minister of community safety, said at the launch his department felt it had been necessary to fill the void left after the loss of 5000 police reservists. R2.5m was used to train, equip and develop the unit, but Plato stressed that the unit alone was not the answer.

“The stabilisation unit is not the only solution to the problems faced by communities plagued by gangs and drugs, but they will assist the police with extra feet on the ground and eyes and ears in our communities,” he said.

“We, as government, need the communities to partner with us to improve safety in any area. We need communities to partner with their respective neighbourhood watches and community police forums to ensure that criminals taken off the streets by the police and the stabilisation unit remain off the streets.”

“We believe that a holistic approach is needed to address the challenges here in Manenberg,” agreed mayor Patricia de Lille at the launch.

“Law enforcement cannot be the silver bullet with which to address many layers of issues.

“It is for this reason that we have numerous programmes running to address the socio-economic conditions which often give rise to the high levels of violence and crime that this community witnesses on a daily basis.”

De Lille said one of the initiatives in the area which had success recently was the school holiday programme facilitated at the recreational centre. More than 1100 children enjoyed activities, including motivational talks, indoor and outdoor games, life skills training and arts and crafts classes.

She also mentioned that the City’s social development department had youth capacity programmes in the pipeline, in which young people would receive life skills and leadership training.

“We need initiatives that will keep our children off the streets and away from the temptation of substance abuse,” she stated.

De Lille stressed that safety was one of the top priorities.

“Despite all our many efforts, we understand if residents feel threatened by violence or crime, they can never truly access the opportunities we create for them.

“It is for this reason that our safety and security directorate continues to work tirelessly to take back the community from the grips of gang leaders and druglords.”

According to the City, the metro police made 95 drug-related arrests and confiscated 1671 units of drugs, 13 firearms and 150 units of ammunition since June last year.

Helen Zille, premier of the Western Cape, pointed out at the launch last week that despite the social decay which has been experienced in the area for the most part, there was a ray of hope on the horizon.

“History is not inevitable; we can turn it around,” she said.

Zille called on the community to work with government to create a brighter future for everyone in the area, in particular parents of young children.

“Government can’t replace a good parent,” she said. “If parents aren’t taking on their responsibility as a parent, the government can’t raise each child.”

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, stated at the launch that the unit would be responsible for, amongst other things, visible patrols.

Residents can also expect more random car checkpoints along with stop and searches.

Smith said the presence of safety kiosks, especially close to schools, would serve as a deterrent to gangs who lure new recruits, as well as inhibit gang activity on the school premises.

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