Ramaphosa gives green light for army to go into Cape's gang-infested areas

(File, Aishah Cassiem)
(File, Aishah Cassiem)

The South African National Defence Force will join an operation to clamp down on Cape Town's gang infested areas on Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele announced on Thursday evening.

He made the announcement towards the end of his budget speech, and elaborated further at a press briefing shortly thereafter.

He said after last weekend, where 13 people were killed in 24 hours in Phillipi, he spoke with Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. They concluded: "This can't continue."

They then approached President Cyril Ramaphosa for "extra deployment" in the form of the SANDF. Ramaphosa assented.

Cele said they decided on this move, not because the DA has been agitating for it, but because the communities called for it through the Community Policing Forums.

On 02:00 Friday morning National Police Commissioner Kehla Sitole will give a "big contingent" of police and metro police officers their marching order to "seal" areas where gang violence is rife.

Within twelve hours, they will be joined by the SANDF.

Cele said they'll be going after some of their regular "clients" – including people who are out on bail.

"We want the real stuff, not the pushers of the drugs," he said. They will also go after illegal firearms.

"They're here for us to police, to make sure not so many people die," Cele said of the SANDF's involvement.

The deployment is for three months and can be renewed.

"After that, there needs to be sustainability," he said.

Sitole described the operation as a "high density, integrated, multidisciplinary, coordinated" operation.

He said the SANDF will be "led and commanded" by the police. He said they have the capacity to support the police.

"This time we call it Blue and Brown," Sitole said.

He said the Defence Force also helped with policing during the elections.

"They did an excellent job."

He said the operation will have a "stabilisation approach" to "stamp the authority of the state" on the area.

"There are certain areas that requires a quick response."

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