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NC troops sent to WC

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Cele was in Philippi East this past weekend on a walkabout to reassure residents following a spike in killings and gangsterism in the area

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NORTHERN Cape SANDF troops have been sent to bolster the forces already in the Western Cape to combat the recent upflare in gang violence.

Police Minister Bheki Cele has confirmed that soldiers have already arrived in the Western Cape ahead of their deployment to various communities on the Cape Flats in “the coming days”.

It is believed that troops from 8 South African Infantry Battalion in the Northern Cape arrived in Cape Town yesterday for mission readiness training.

In a statement released by the SANDF yesterday, the military has been deployed for three months to the area and forms part of Operation Prosper, which commits the national military to support the police when and if approved by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF.

According to the statement, Section 201 (2) of the Constitution states “only the president, as head of the national executive, may authorise the employment of the defence force in co-operation with the police service. Section 18 of the Defence Act states in addition to deployment of the Constitution, the president “may authorise the employment of the Defence Force for service inside the Republic”. Section 19 of the Act requires the Minister of Defence to give notice of the deployment in the Government Gazette and that the president needs to inform Parliament.

The SAPS said yesterday that 143 suspects have been arrested since Thursday when the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) operation began in the areas of Philippi, Steenberg and Delft.

Stabilisation

“Once there is stabilisation in the area, the police will ensure the stability is sustained. The community will have to work with the police. There are things we need to fix, things that the communities want us to do, and we are working on our relationships with the communities,” Cele said.

“The police have done a good job here, now they need this extra assistance (from the army) for the time being and then they (the soldiers) will go back to barracks.”

National police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo said: “The 143 suspects were arrested for crimes including murder, attempted murder, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, aggravated robberies, unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition and possession of drugs. Members of the operations also recovered drugs (including tik, mandrax and cannabis), arms and ammunition and hijacked vehicles.”

Cele was in Philippi East this past weekend on a walkabout to reassure residents following a spike in killings and gangsterism in the area.

He told reporters that he had also been on overnight patrols across parts of the Cape Flats affected, including Gugulethu and Philippi East.

Cele said: “The National Commissioner (Khehla John Sitole) and myself were patrolling until about 3am. We visited shebeens which were shut, except for one in Gugulethu which was open. The people we met on patrol pleaded with me that we shouldn’t wait for nightfall and that the patrols should be on every day because visible policing makes them feel safer.

“The soldiers are coming. In fact they are already here and are being orientated by the SAPS and then they will start work alongside the police.

“The army cannot be here permanently,” the minister concluded.