Over 700 gang related arrests in 8 months

2016-09-06 06:00

The City of Cape Town says its gang and drug task team (GDTT) and stabilisation unit have arrested more than 700 suspects and confiscated 23 firearms in the first eight months of this year.

Altogether 716 suspects have been arrested in the city’s gang hotspots. Of those arrested, 542 were caught in possession of drugs, while just over half of all the arrests were made in five policing precincts, namely Philippi (107), Manenberg (96), Steenberg (56), Bishop Lavis (55) and Delft (51).

Officers also confiscated 20 firearms, three zip guns, 350 rounds of ammunition, just over R180 000 in cash and 12 953 units of drugs. This is over and above the successes achieved during general patrols and operations by the City’s various enforcement agencies.

“When one considers that the City controls only 3% of policing resources in Cape Town, then these statistics are a very good reflection of the commitment and dedication of our enforcement staff,” says JP Smith, the City’s Mayco member for safety and security.

Smith says that this squashes any perceptions that the City is not pulling its weight in the fight against crime and that it is not their primary responsibility, stating that primarily the South African Police Service is responsible.

The GDTT comprises Metro Police, Traffic Services and Law Enforcement officers, and was established in November 2014 to help quell gang violence and drug-related crime. The stabilisation unit was then launched in August 2015. The units operate autonomously, but also in conjunction with the police and other City departments where necessary, by providing high-visibility patrols, gathering intelligence through an ever-growing network of informants, and executing search warrants aimed at getting wanted criminals off the streets for offences already committed.

Other interventions introduced by the City in recent years to counter gang violence and drug-related crime include:

• The deployment of school resource officers at high-risk schools to minimise disruptions to learning,

• Neighbourhood safety officers to localise policing and focus on specific areas,

• The launch of Operation Ceasefire to engage high-risk youth directly and counsel them to get out of gangs,

• The establishment of the Metro Police Youth Cadets to redirect high-risk youth away from gangs and other social ills,

• Drug and gang awareness outreach programmes by the Metro Police specialised units, including the K9 Unit and

• Youth-at-risk awareness programmes and presentations.

“The task team’s success is the result of the commitment, dedication and persistence of its members, combined with a multi-disciplinary approach to gang and drug-related offences that doesn’t focus on enforcement only, but also the root causes. It’s not all smooth sailing though, because we’re up against some communities that close ranks around the gangsters and drug dealers and then have the temerity to complain about the ongoing violence. Access to crime statistics and trends from the police offer another challenge, but as our network of informers grows, so too does the City’s crime intelligence dossier,” adds Smith.

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