Mbalula asks army to help quell violence in WC and Gauteng

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula. (Jan Gerber, News24)
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula. (Jan Gerber, News24)

Cape Town - Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has asked the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to help tackle crime in the Western Cape and Gauteng.

This was announced via a statement on Tuesday evening.

The Western Cape has recently seen gang shootings flare up in various areas around the province.

Read: Infighting, drug clashes - here's what is igniting Cape Town's gang battles

Residents in various gang hot spots in the province have for years been calling for the army to be deployed in areas to try and clamp down on gang violence. Premier Helen Zille has also called for this.

However, in 2015, the police ministry had said it did not believe deploying the army was necessary to help quell gang violence.

In 2015 army members were temporarily deployed to certain hot spots, including in Manenberg, one of the Western Cape's most volatile gang areas, as part of anti-gang strategy named Operation Fiela.

However, gun battles between gangs broke out just days after the operation was held there.

Perpetrators 'have military training'

On Tuesday evening Mbalula referred to the Western Cape and Gauteng as “the most crime stubborn provinces”. 

In the Western Cape, Cape Town specifically had been identified as a crime hotspot.

"It has been decided that urgent additional steps must be taken in order to interdepartmentally manage the current scourge of crime in general," the statement said.

"Stabilisation and combating of these criminal activities are within the mandate of the South African Police Service but due to the large groupings and military training of some of the perpetrators, the SANDF is requested to assist."

'Weapons of war' being used

The statement said recent violence had involved the "use of weapons of war" and that even children were becoming victims of crime.

Mbalula referred to a recent visit to Cape Town gang hotspot Elsie's River.

“When I visited the community of Elsie's River, one community leader referred to the terror caused by gangs as an act of terrorism, I want to tell the people of Elsie's River that I heard you, and I am acting,” he said.

READ: Elsie's River gets mobile police station

Mbalula said the recent increase in violence, shootings and gangsterism in the Western Cape and Gauteng was becoming "a matter of huge concern".

'Prisons of fear'

Crimes being committed included murders, robberies, assaults, rapes and hijackings.

“Our children have a right to grow in a peaceful environment, and as police, we have a duty to protect that right,” Mbalula said.

“We will never fail our people, we will squeeze the space for criminals, and we will liberate our people from prisons of fear."

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