Police minister Bheki Cele deploys army to crime-ridden Western Cape

Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Image: Esa Alexander

SA National Defence Force (SANDF) members will be deployed to the Western Cape’s worst-affected crime areas, police minister Bheki Cele announced on Thursday.

Presenting his budget vote speech on Thursday, Cele said the deployment came about because of the high number of brutal murders in the Western Cape, most specifically in the Cape Town metro in the past few years.

He said he and defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula had asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to authorise the deployment of the army to help police combat crime and preserve law and order.

“The president has since given the approval of the deployment of the SANDF as requested by both ministers,” Cele said.

SANDF members will work with the police for at least three months for cordons, searches, observation, and foot and vehicle patrols. They will also provide air support.

Cele said the number of murders in Western Cape had increased from 3,729 to 3,963 during the 2018-19 financial year, compared with the previous financial year.

The 10 police stations that reported the most murders in the province during this period were Nyanga, Delft, Khayelitsha, Philippi East, Harare, Gugulethu, Mfuleni, Kraaifontein, Mitchells Plain and Bishop Lavis, he said.

“Combined, the 10 stations contributed to 47% of murders in the province," he said.

The number of attempted murders in the province had increased from 3,698 to 3,844 – most of which were reported by Bishop Lavis, Mitchells Plain, Delft, Elsies River, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Mfuleni, Philippi, Kraaifontein and Manenberg police stations.

“These stations contributed to 42% of attempted murders in the province,” he said, identifying Philippi East as the station that had reported the most murders.

“In one incident on Friday July 5 2019, six females were fatally wounded in [Philippi East community] Marcus Garvey. On Saturday July 6 2019, a further two shootings occurred where five victims were fatally wounded and one injured,” Cele said.

Western Cape premier Alan Winde welcomed the minister's announcement.

He said that until recently, Cele had maintained that crime on the Cape Flats was not bad enough to warrant deploying the army, and he welcomed this about-turn.

“The SANDF could provide support and assist with holding perimeters and cordons in these exercises so that police can get on with the work of investigating crime and arresting perpetrators,” Winde said.

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