Western Cape premier Helen Zille still wants soldiers on hand to help police crack down on gang and drug related crime in the province.
Speaking during her State of the Province address this week she said that “despite promises from Police Minister Fikile Mbalula this has not materialised, nor has the specialised gang and drug units promised by former president Jacob Zuma in 2016”.
She is reported as saying the police minister offered “the astounding excuse the SANDF would not be deployed in the short term because SAPS are on top of the gang crisis”.
The provincial premier added she wrote to Mbalula on February 8 “requesting him to substantiate his statements that gangsterism has been neutralised, as this is at odds with the views of our communities and our own experience”. At the time of publication she had not had a response from Minister Mbalula.
Last year, Mbalula indicated soldiers would be deployed in support of police in both Gauteng and Western Cape before the December holiday season. This did not happen.
Last month he launched Operation Fiela II, a national anti-crime initiative set to last a year before being reviewed. The SA National Defence Force, along with other government departments and agencies, would be part of the operation. To date, police have reported on two provincial Fiela operations – in North West and Northern Cape – but soldiers have not been part of either.
Aside from Fiela, soldiers were due to be deployed to Cape Town as part of drought relief operations. Last month the City of Cape Town said it would be activating its Disaster Operations Centre (DOC). This will be the nerve centre from where the metro will execute its water disaster plan.
According to the Western Cape provincial government, its water security strategy includes “deployment of forces at points of distribution (POD) across the metro, regular patrols, escorting water resources to critical points where necessary and 24 hour monitoring of crime hotspots”.
The SAPS and the SANDF will help secure water collection points. Their deployment will include inner perimeter security as well as out perimeter security. There will be static deployments as well as rotational vehicle patrols.