'Crime here remains stubborn,' says Cele as he deploys another 197 police officers to Western Cape

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  • An additional 197 police officers have been deployed to the Western Cape.
  • The officers will act as "force multipliers" within the Operation Lockdown currently in place in the province.
  • It is in response to the "gradual increase of violent crimes", specifically related to gang violence.

Not big talk but also big action – this is how Police Minister Bheki Cele on Wednesday described the deployment of almost 200 additional police officers to the Western Cape.

"Crime here remains stubborn, murders remain high, extortion - as we know - it happens. We need to really act, so that the humans here receive the dignity they deserve," Cele said after a briefing with provincial police management and inspecting the parade of the 197 officers.

According to police, the officers will be deployed to the Khayelitsha, Delft, Kraaifontein, Nyanga, Harare and Philippi East policing precincts as "force multipliers" within the existing Operation Lockdown currently in place in the province.

It is in response to the "gradual increase of violent crimes", specifically related to gang violence.

Cele said gangsterism thrived on the availability of drugs, and he hailed the recent multimillion-rand drug busts in the province.

And where drugs "can't feed", extortion becomes an issue.

But it was not only the elite that were targeted, he said.

"They go to extort makhulu, who gets R300 for renting out her backyard. They want that 10%."

ALSO READ | 'The law is on your side' - Cele urges cops to 'use deadly force' after latest police murders

He further slammed attacks on police, mentioning an incident in Mfuleni over the weekend, in which officers were attacked and their vehicle set alight, as well as two West Rand officers, who were attacked and their vehicle torched in Muldersdrift.

"On that one, I am not going to be soft," he warned. "So if they want to declare war, we will not say, no. We will take the challenge."

He said the newly deployed officers would stay in the province as long as they needed to.

"We are not telling criminals how long we will be here," he said.

Other provinces, such as KwaZulu-Natal, would also see extra resources deployed, to "make sure we help people to live in dignity".

Meanwhile, MEC for community safety Albert Fritz said he is "appalled" by the number of young people struck by stray bullets in neighbourhoods on the Cape Flats.

"Among those injured include Riaz Cloete, 8, who was shot in the head in Manenberg on Saturday afternoon when playing [in] the road, and has subsequently been hospitalised; Chloe van der Westhuizen, 4, from Hanover Park, who has been discharged after being shot in the eye … on 25 March; and Declyn Wippenaar, 13, from Hanover Park, who was shot in the spine while playing in a football tournament in Philippi on Monday," he said.

"It is unacceptable that people on the Cape Flats, particularly young people, are constantly being subjected to such acts of terrorism, where the simply playing outside can result in their injury and even death. As a provincial government, we are hard at work implementing numerous initiatives aimed at putting an end to this and to restore calm to our communities."

He said interventions include working closely with police, the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan and other law enforcement agencies to ensure the permanent deployment of law enforcement area technical teams in the six areas with the highest rates of murder and violence.  

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