Deploy SANDF to help police fight drugs: Zille

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Western Cape Premier Helen Zille (pictured) wants the South African National Defence Force to assist the SA Police Service fight drug gangs in parts of Cape Town. She says the military should only be deployed for internal functions in emergencies.

“The ‘spike’ of gang violence in certain Cape Town suburbs over the last few months (during which at least 23 people, including seven children, have died) is such an emergency. … After careful consideration, I and my Cabinet colleagues have concluded that the current situation is beyond the capacity of the …  SAPS to control. They need the support of the … SANDF to restore order,” Zille said in her weekly newsletter.

“But the intervention of the army can only be temporary and must happen under the command of the SAPS. Although we correctly describe the retributive violence between gangs as “warfare”, we are not in a civil war. This means that the role of the army is merely to create the space for the police to do their jobs effectively.
“The question is, can they? The melt-down in the top hierarchy of the police has cascaded down the ranks like wax off a burning candle. And it is showing in low morale, high rates of absenteeism, and an inability to perform the single most crucial function that the SAPS alone is constitutionally empowered to undertake – investigations that produce evidence that lead to convictions in court,” Zille says.
“Effective investigative policing is the weakest link in a generally fragile criminal justice chain. And until we get this right, we will not find a long term solution to gang violence. The Metro Police cannot make up for SAPS failures either. While the Metro Police have made 108 gang-related arrests since January, they must hand the cases over to the SAPS for investigation.   
“Gangsters shoot-to-kill with impunity, and often in broad daylight, because they believe they will get away with it. And they usually do. According to the SAPS in the Western Cape, there has not been a single conviction over the past three years in the 87 cases of gang-related murder and attempted murder reported in Hanover Park. Although the Provincial Prosecution authorities contest this statistic, we are unable to get alternative information – which is part of the problem.  



Zille says there are now more than 130 gangs with a collective membership of around 100 000, particularly in the poorest areas such as Hanover Park and Lavender Hill. She added that drugs such as crystal methamphetamine, known locally as “tik”, has intensified the extent of gangsterism in the province.

But Zweli Mnisi, police ministry spokesman, said no decision had been made regarding the involvement of the army, The Times reported. “In the Western Cape, we have one of the most experienced provincial police commissioners in Lieutenant-General [Arno] Lamoer and as police leadership, we remain confident that, together with his team, [Lamoer is] more than capable of tackling crime within the province.”
The Ceasefire Campaign, a demilitarisation group, says Zille’s call is misguided ” especially in the light of the Defence Review which clearly foresees/ implicitly advocates the use of the military internally. The apartheid government used the SADF to deal with internal opposition in the townships. The use of the military internally would be an abuse of the SANDF and a vote of no confidence in the police. The continued use of the military is dangerous to the stability of the civilian-controlled state — at its most extreme, it can lead to the overthrow of the government by the military that gets fed up of coming out of the barracks to rescue an inept civilian authority.