S. Africa to deploy troops in Cape Town to quell gang violence

Cheryl Sanders
July 14, 2019

The order to send in soldiers was announced by Police Minister Bheki Cele, during his budget vote speech in parliament on Thursday.

As the troops organised themselves in preparation to assist a police service struggling to curb a rocketing murder rate, reports of the weekend's first casualties came in.

SA National Defence Force (SANDF) troops in Cape Town are receiving "mission readiness training" ahead of their deployment in the city's gang-infested areas, where they will be offering support to local police efforts in combating crime.

The areas include Bonteheuwel, Delft, Hanover Park and Philippi East.

Cele said they'll be going after some of their regular "clients" - including people who are out on bail.

The deployment is for three months and can be renewed.

"We want the real stuff, not the pushers of the drugs", he said.

Cape Town, a worldwide tourist destination with stunning coastal and mountain scenery, has the highest murder rate in the country according to the latest official crime figures.

South Africa's murder rate increased by seven percent during the April 2017 to March 2018 reporting period, with a reported 57 people killed a day.

The Democratic Alliance has welcomed the temporary military intervention. 'Countless mothers have buried their innocent children and life in these communities has been a never-ending nightmare, the party said in a statement. In June 2018, there were 344 alleged murder admissions in Cape Town and in June 2019, there were 448.

Similar to Los Angeles, there is an entrenched gang culture with thousands of young men belonging to street gangs with names like "Hard Living" and "Young Americans".

No members of the SANDF have yet been deployed on the Cape Flats... however there is a heavy police presence at the Phillipi East police station. Gareth Newham at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, said: 'It is a short-term, unsustainable response to a crisis.

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