The Port Elizabeth-based Herald newspaper reports the military will be supporting the police and other state agencies fighting gang warfare in the Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay metropoles.
“In a bold move, the military and other state agencies are being roped in to fight gang warfare in the Eastern and Western Cape. Gang hotspots – including Helenvale, Gelvandale and Bethelsdorp in Port Elizabeth and Lavender Hill and Hanover Park in the Western Cape – are believed to have been prioritised,” the paper said.
‘While officials at the various departments involved are tight-lipped about the matter, The Herald has seen a national order – sent to both the Eastern and Western Cape police commissioners by National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure chairman Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela – instructing them to form the Provincial Priority Committee to clamp down on gang warfare and drug hotspots,” the paper added. National police spokesman Colonel Vishnu Naidoo refused to comment on the order, saying it was strictly confidential. “This is the reason why we want the[Protection of State] Information Bill to be passed,” he said. “These are operational issues and I do not know how they got into the hands of the media.”
The order also spells out what roles the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), the Home Affairs, Correctional Services and Justice departments, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and other organisations will play. The defence force will provide airborne and logistical support and accommodation for police. “(The) SANDF will only physically be involved during intelligence-driven operations with regards to cordon and search,” the four page order, “Combating gangsterism in Western Cape and Eastern Cape”, apparently asserts.
The document reportedly lists several operational focus areas, including “stability operations including roadblocks and vehicle checkpoints; enhanced crime prevention; effective border management through ports of entry; and, enhanced intelligence-driven operations and prompt investigation of all cases.”
Western Cape premier and DA national leader Helen Zille last month twice requested President Jacob Zuma to deploy the military to curb gang warfare on the Cape Flats, saying the situation amounted to an emergency and was beyond the control of the police. Zuma tasked Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to study the problem and prioritise gang warfare, apparently in both the Eastern and Western Cape provinces, leading to the reported intervention.