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D-Day for army deployment on Cape Flats

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The SANDF’s official two-month presence on the Cape Flats comes to an end today, but it still remains unclear if an extension will be granted.

File photo: Henk Kruger / African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – The South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF) official two-month presence on the Cape Flats comes to an end today, but it still remains unclear if an extension will be granted.

Premier Alan Winde has requested President Cyril Ramaphosa to extend its deployment, however, Defence and Military Veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said they do not just take such decision, “because somebody is calling on us to to deploy, there has to be a proper assessment”.

Mapisa-Nqakula said they will seat and assess the information on whether it should be extended of not, “I still do not know. What I know is that the army deployment is ending on Monday”.

Winde said the current gang war is a crisis, and “we need to throw our full might behind every possible solution, and I therefore support the extension of the term of the deployment of the SANDF in our communities”.

“We are being told that the SANDF has played a key role in Operation Lockdown so far, particularly in providing support to the police and other law enforcement operations, however, we have seen very little in the way of a decrease in violent crime. There is no doubt that the police do not have the resources to do this alone,” Winde said.

“There is still a massive hill to climb and no reasonable person would be satisfied that the levels of violence in the Western Cape, and particularly those in affected areas, have now been stablised.”

On August 27, Mapisa-Nqakula said the deployment was a temporary measure and was not sustainable, she was answering questions in the National Council of Provinces during an engagement between MPs and ministers in the peace and security cluster.

Senior researcher in justice and violence-prevention at the Institute for Security Studies Dr Andrew Faull said considering the numerous factors driving the high rates of gang and interpersonal violence in the affected communities – child neglect, domestic conflict, poverty and unemployment, substance abuse, organised crime, weak state services – “it isn’t clear why the SANDF has been deployed”.

Faull said it was generally accepted that crime and violence could not be stopped by police (or military) deployment alone. “But the police remain central to ending endemic violence”.

The Joint Standing Committee on Defence and the Select Committee on Security and Justice also conducted an oversight visit to the Cape Flats last month, to ascertain the efficacy of the operation, and satisfied with its provision.

Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said executed targeted operations that netted 395 arrests from Thursday until Sunday. 

“The operations saw integrated forces descending on various locations within the Cape Town metropole. Of the arrests effected, 191 were wanted suspects,” Potelwa said.

She said they conducted stop and searches, roadblocks, crime prevention patrols and visits to liquor outlets and seized the following:  

  • Dagga 391.25 grams
  • Tik (Crystal Meth) 237.30 grams
  • Mandrax Tablets 163
  • One Firearm
  • Two Zip guns
  • Ammunition 27
  • Liquor 75 366.34 litres

The Operation Lockdown was initiated in July 2019 as a response to the plea for intervention from communities about serious and violent crimes plaguing the Cape Flats and other townships in the Cape Town metropole. The forces included various units of the police, metro police, traffic officials and the SANDF.  

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