23 August 2013
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille have welcomed the decision to set up a joint operational unit to tackle drugs and gangsterism in the city.
Addressing the media following a meeting between himself, De Lille and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, Mthethwa said the various parties acknowledged that the drug and gangster problem in the Western Cape had deep-seated roots.
“We want to ensure that we work with whoever wants to work to fight crime,” said Mthethwa, who pointed out that the meeting emphasised the need for the provincial government, the city’s metro police and the South African Police Service (SAPS) to work together.
As part of this co-operation, the SAPS and the city’s metro police will run a joint anti-crime operation in Nyanga next Tuesday.
De Lille said the joint committee would help the province, city and national government to work more closely together.
“We now have got a joint committee on an operational level – not just at a talk-shop level … that will meet on a weekly basis so that we can know what each of the different spheres of government is doing.”
De Lille said the city had identified those council-owned homes where drug dealing took place, but said that procedures to secure evictions were very onerous, and that Mthethwa had advised the city to look at how these procedures could be improved.
She said for the next two weeks, an extra 71 metro police had been deployed to gang-stricken areas, adding that extra metro police could be hired and deployed to these areas in two weeks’ time, pending transfers from the province.
Responding to repeated calls from Zille for the national government to deploy the army to tackle gang violence in the Western Cape, Mthethwa said the army alone could not deal with gang violence.
Gang violence, he said, was best dealt with through a multi-disciplinary approach, using social development and health as well policing to tackle the problem.
He added that the police had been able to stabilise the recent violence and were currently in Manenberg, where they had confiscated the firearms of various suspected gangsters.
Before the briefing, Zille, who could not attend the briefing because she had a prior commitment, told journalists that specialist anti-drug and anti-gang units should be reintroduced.
However, Mthethwa said 100 police officers were particularly deployed to deal with gangsterism in the province, while police had also been stationed at certain gang hot-spots.
He said that the police had made more arrests since the phasing out of specialist anti-drug and anti-gang units, but that the difficulty was in obtaining convictions.
Part of the challenge was that the unit was made up of just 58 police officers covering the entire province, and that police stations didn’t always call the unit to make use of its services, Mthethwa said.
He said members of the community, including parents, had to come forward and assist the police to crack down on gangsterism.