Troops will be deployed 'in about two days' - Cele to Philippi East residents

Police and the South African National Defence Force conduct random searches in Lavender Hills in the Cape Flats. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Esa Alexander)
Police and the South African National Defence Force conduct random searches in Lavender Hills in the Cape Flats. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Esa Alexander)

Minister of Police Bheki Cele conducted a walkabout on Sunday through the streets of Philippi East in Cape Town where he engaged with residents, telling them that the army would be deployed in the next coming days after troops have completed orientation. 

"The soldiers are here, they have arrived. It is not the military’s job to do the police’s work, they are busy (with the police) with orientation. Their job is not to arrest people, their job is to support the police, accompany them…work together. They will be here. The time frame? In about two days, you will see them here," Cele told residents. 

The minister announced on Thursday in his budget speech that President Cyril Ramaphosa had given the go-ahead for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to offer support to the police and enter 10 identified areas of the Cape Flats.

Residents, however, told News24 that they feel that not much has been done to rid the area of continuous shooting since the announcement. 

Mkhanyisi Mahlangu, who's been living in the area for three years, says he doesn't feel safe in the street or at home.

"It seems like the crime is going up, and it gets worse with winter. I'm afraid to go to work in the morning because the guys wait to rob us. I'm scared to sit in my house, day or night," he says.

During his walkabout, Cele tried to reassure residents, telling them that police had already arrested high profile people.

Another man, afraid to give his name out of fear of victimisation, doesn't believe the troop deployments will bring positive change.

"It's k*k living here. People are getting robbed and beaten daily. I don't believe that we will see change, the army will just beat us up," he said.

Troops began arriving in Cape Town on Friday to support police operations.

SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi told News24 on Saturday that that the troops were receiving "mission readiness training" ahead of their deployment.

The training includes a briefing on the areas in which the troops will be active. Mgobozi added that the preparation was necessary to ensure troops were ready before they headed into Cape Town's crime-ridden suburbs. 

The training also included the objectives of the mission, expectations of troop conduct and preparation for engagement with the public, added Department of Defence and Military Veterans spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini.

The 10 Cape Town precincts identified for support by the SANDF are Bishop Lavis, Mitchells Plain, Delft, Elsies River, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Mfuleni, Philippi, Kraaifontein and Manenberg.

Cele said on Sunday that he had received numerous requests from community policing forums for the army to be deployed.

He is due to speak at the Paarl police academy at a crime summit where the adoption of the declaration outlining commitments made by all stakeholders in the fight against crime will take place.

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