Cape Town - Police Minister Fikile Mbalula on Thursday expressed concern over the prevalence of gangsterism on the Cape Flats.
"We know that it is not easy for the community around here, because these gangsters have projected themselves as too powerful," he told community leaders at the Elsie's River police station after 11 people were injured and three killed in gang-related shootings in the area on Monday.
"Where have you seen gangsters dishing out money like it is a pension day in the communities? That's what they do here in the Western Cape. They think they are a government. No criminals must be allowed to dish out money like it is a pension pay-out day. It's only government that gives pensions."
Community police forum deputy chairperson Imraahn Mukaddan urged Mbalula to treat the shootings as a terrorist attack.
"We need to address this as a political threat and not as a criminal threat. These militias have put in place an alternative state. They control territories, they are organised as a military outlet, they have their own generals, they have their own captains; their own ranking system.
"Every child in our community that is being trained, is not being trained as a gangster, but is being trained as a child soldier.
"We are living in a state of terror. We are living in a war zone; we are in the situation of a civil war."
Act of terrorism
If a few white children playing soccer on the Sea Point promenade had been shot, it would have been called an act of terrorism, he argued.
Western Cape community safety MEC Dan Plato said he was concerned about the killings on the Cape Flats.
"Children are getting killed on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis: Younger than 16 years old, they die every week like flies."
Mbalula promised that the South African Police Service would deploy additional resources to the community.
"We've got an appointment with them and we are coming for them, because we cannot allow South Africans to be gripped in fear by criminals," he said.
"We must squeeze the space for criminals and we must make it unbearable. Our police force is on the ground to ensure that these criminals have got an unbearable life and an unbearable lifestyle."
In 2012, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille called on President Jacob Zuma to deploy the military to the area. Mbalula said this would be a last resort.
Mbalula said it will no longer be business as usual in Elsie's River.
"My job is that I came, I saw, I acted," he said.