Militarising policing ‘not the answer’ to violent crime

Staff Writer | Jul 17, 2019
The FW de Klerk Foundation says the real problem of gang violence in the Western Cape ‘lies with the effectiveness of the whole law and order chain’, and the ‘need to address the problems that underlie violence’.

Deploying South African National Defence Force (SANDF) troops in the Western Cape can be welcomed as a short-term measure, but the problem of gang violence ‘cannot in the long term be solved by the militarisation of policing’, the Foundation said.

The organisation said there could be ‘no doubt’ about the seriousness of the situation, given that ‘2 302 people were murdered in Cape Town during the first six months of 2019 (representing) a murder rate of more than 100/100 000 – compared with 33/100 000 for South Africa and 6/100 000 for the world.  This gives Cape Town one of the highest murder rates in the world.’

The Foundation said in a statement: ‘This already deplorable situation was further exacerbated over the weekend of 5 and 6 July 2019, when 13 people were violently killed in the township of Philippi East, located in Cape Town’s notorious gang-ridden Cape Flats.

‘Philippi East police station is located within the Nyanga policing cluster. Nyanga is often referred to as the ‘murder capital’ of South Africa due to the high murder rate of over 250 murders annually. 

‘Clearly, the police are simply not carrying out their primary duty of protecting the lives of citizens.’

This was ‘despite repeated efforts over the years’  to tackle gangsterism on the Cape flats, including the November 2018 relaunch of the Anti-Gang Unit (AGU), which had been disbanded in the early 2000s by then Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi.

While the deployment of soldiers could be welcomed as a short-term measure to assist policing, the ‘real problem lies with the effectiveness of the whole law and order chain’. What was needed was ‘effective police, prosecution services and courts’ and a plan to ‘address the problems that underlie violence in the Cape Flats’.

On Monday, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde confirmed that Cape Town had had ‘another bloody weekend’, with 43 people being murdered, of whom 25 were shot and 12 stabbed.

Some of the victims were killed in ‘the very areas’ where the South African Police Services had been ‘running a national joint operational and intelligence structure operation’.

 

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