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Cape premier takes on Cele about army in gang areas

The premier of the Western Cape has reacted angrily to the statement made by Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, who was quoted in the press as saying that the crime situation in the Western Cape is not bad enough to warrant the deployment of the army to the province.

“Would Minister Cele dare say this to the families and loved ones of the 2 302 people who have been murdered in the province between November 2018, when the anti-gang unit was launched, and May this year?” Winde said in a statement.

In Worcester, where gang violence is also prevalent in areas such as Avian Park and Roodewal, calls have been made for help from national government to send in the army into affected areas.

Several residents have spoken to Standard over the years about what they perceive as under-resourcing of the police.

Provincially, several community policing forums, which are on the ground each day and face the day-to-day reality of protecting their communities against violence, have called for the deployment of the SANDF in order to tackle the recent spike in gang violence.

Turf wars, and gun battles take place on the streets of these communities on a daily basis, with innocent residents, some of whom are children, getting caught in the crossfire. People live in fear for their lives Winde said.

In other areas of the province, rural and farming communities experience similar fear.

Winde said the crime situation in the Western Cape requires an urgent intervention.

“Due to massive under-resourcing, our police officers are being stretched thin. With too few officers, and a lack of crime intelligence, police officers themselves, are coming under attack from brazen criminals.

“The deployment of the SANDF as peacekeepers in our communities will act as an additional tool in our line of defence against criminals, to add to the police, community police forums, and neighbourhood watches. Any move that seeks to take back the power from gangsters and criminals, and which puts more boots on the ground, should be considered and supported.

“Minister Cele claims that SANDF troops are not trained to deal with civilians. I’ve also noted messaging by SANDF top brass that crime prevention is not part of the SANDF’s training. However, the SANDF have on other occasions been deployed around the country in support of Saps.”

The Western Cape Government has made numerous requests over the years for the deployment of the army. This latest call does not come from us, but comes from the Community Police Forums, on behalf of the residents of this province,” Winde said.

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