More than 1,000 arrested since army boots hit the ground in Cape Town: Bheki Cele

Police minister Bheki Cele said troops had been welcomed by communities and were likely to remain on the ground in crime-ridden areas in Cape Town for three months. File photo.
Police minister Bheki Cele said troops had been welcomed by communities and were likely to remain on the ground in crime-ridden areas in Cape Town for three months. File photo.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

Police minister Bheki Cele said on Monday that more than 1,000 suspects had been arrested since the army was deployed to crime-ridden parts of Cape Town.

Cele, wearing his signature black hat and dark glasses, was giving an update at Tafelsig on the impact of the defence force deployment in areas described by residents as "under siege".

"A spike in murders, attempted murders and other violent crimes in parts of Cape Town, townships and the Cape Flats has elicited an outcry from different sectors of society and calls for immediate intervention in an effort to stabilise the situation," he said. 

The crime and killings peaked on the weekend of May 31-June 2 when 73 murders were recorded, he said. The army was deployed in mid-July.

Since the military rolled into some of the affected areas, 1,004 suspects were arrested, 806 wanted suspects were traced and arrested, 45 firearms were confiscated along with 1,036 rounds of ammunition and an assortment of drugs and illegal substances, said Cele.

He said 20 members of gangs were now on trial in the province.

Cele said the troops were likely to remain on the ground for three months, emphasising  that the intervention was temporary.

"That's not an ideal world, sending soldiers into communities, but communities welcome them," he said. "The presence of soldiers can't be a permanent solution. We are preparing for a time when the police can take over."

Western Cape premier Alan Winde revealed on Monday that 47 people had been murdered in the latest bloody weekend of violence across the Cape Town metropolitan region. Twenty-seven of the killings were shootings.

Cele said there was an increasing trend of knives becoming the weapon of choice as more firearms are confiscated.

"Where one option is removed, criminals look for other methods, " he said.

Resident Theo van Wyk said: "These skollies here are still killing. The army being here makes very little difference."


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