Hanover Park residents welcomed the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members in their community.
They hope that this will scare off gangsters and drug lords.
On the evening of Thursday 18 July, the soldiers joined a search operation by the police and other law enforcement agencies in Hanover Park and Manenberg.
They searched vehicles driving into the areas for illegal items such as drugs and firearms. Efforts to get a comment from the two government security agencies were in vain. They remained tight-lipped about how long they were going to be in the area and what was the way forward.
The deployment of the army made headlines in the media when they arrived in Cape Town last week. Since then, they have joined various operations.
During an operation in Hanover Park residents watched as the gun-carrying soldiers kept an eye on the proceedings.
They shared sentiments of feeling safe with the heavy presence of the soldiers in their midst.
Quadriyah September, a resident, said she hoped the shooting by gangsters would stop now that the soldiers are visible.
She said she appreciated the gesture and the effort but according to her, the hotspot for gangsters is an open space not far from where the soldiers were stationed.
“I wish they could stay here forever and never leave,” she said.
Another relieved resident, Wayne Ryneveld described the patrol as a “good thing”. He said there are always shootings in the area. “We cannot even sit outside at night, we thank the minister for responding to the call (to deploy soldiers),” he said.
As much as he appreciates the presence of the soldiers he added that he does not think the gangsters will be deterred.
“They (gangsters) are not afraid of guns and prisons so they will not even stop what they are doing while the soldiers are here,” he said.
He said as soon as the soldiers leave, shootings will resume in the area. He said they have lost a lot of children to gang-related shootings.
Another resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear for her life, also welcomed the patrol but had an issue with where the soldiers were stationed. She agreed with her neighbours that the hotspot was the open field in the area where gangs loiter.
“Crime is bad in the area, it is very dangerous here. We witness it as the community every day and we live in danger so I feel like the soldiers came late,” she said.
Ward 47 councillor Antonio van der Rheede said they are happy with the deployment in the community.
He said he wished they were deployed earlier. That, he reckons, would have prevented the loss of many lives.
Van der Rheede said he does not know how long the army would be based in the area as that is “top secret.”
“We just want to appeal to the community to be tolerant as the soldiers search every car because they do not know who is who. People must know that one minute can save a life,” he said.
He said it was unfortunate that it had to get to a point where soldiers were to be sent when the police is there, fully resourced.