Inside Western Cape’s lockdown plan for gang lands

In a bid to quell the escalating gang violence in Cape Town, the City has collaborated with the Western Cape South African Police Services (Saps) to curb crime and gangsterism in communities.

Colonel Andre Traut confirmed a recent meeting held between Western Cape Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety Anroux Marais, Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile, and other officials.

This meeting aimed to strategise and address the surge in gang-related crime affecting various communities across the city.

Both Traut and Patekile confirmed that in the past weekend, 100 additional operational Saps members were deployed to identified station precincts with high murder rates and gang-related crime.

Additionally, the meeting put a spotlight on police precincts lacking adequate policing resources. The Grassy Park and Steenberg policing precincts were specifically highlighted as having such issues.

According to Traut, further details of the meeting could not be provided.

“Be advised that the finer aspects of the operational measures cannot be discussed with the media as this could jeopardise the efficacy thereof,” Traut told The Citizen.

Saps rejects suggested plan and resources

Marais emphasised the importance of understanding the situation on the ground.

He said before relevant officials decide on a precise strategy, it is essential that they “understand what the real picture is across other communities as well.”

Safety and Security mayoral committee member Alderman JP Smith expressed frustration over the lack of cooperation from Saps . Smith said this is regarding a discussed initiative to enforce a lockdown in particular areas in order to root out criminals.

Smith said the detailed plan was firstly delayed by the relevant Saps General and then further outright rejected.

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“We have made available all the resources we can and offered access to our Drone Units and ISR eye-in-the-sky platform. Several months ago, we tried our best to get on top of the situation and we approached a senior official within the SAPS, to arrange locking an area down for several days by flooding it with resources.

“Our intention was to sift through the entire community, raking up all those who were currently wanted on outstanding warrants, cleaning out an area, before moving on to the next, where we would repeat the cycle. Several months ago, a certain Saps General said they would consider it. When questioned again last week on this, the reply given now was a straight-out ‘No.’ It angers me that we want to partner with the Saps and offer our resources, but we are plainly rejected while communities are left suffering,” said Smith.

Patekile unaware of city’s offer

When questioned by Marais, Patekile revealed that he was previously unaware of the city’s offer to provide additional resources. However, Patekile assured the Minister that he would “urgently” consider this offer.

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“Operational plans are afoot to quell the violence in affected areas and Saps will not relax the efforts until the situation has been neutralised,” Traut added.

Sharing data on crime on time

Furthermore, Marais highlighted the need for timely sharing of crime data.

He said the prolonged presentation of crime cases and category information neither served the interests of communities nor those of the police.

“We [as the Western Cape government] could assist by arranging that additional provincial or municipal resources be redirected to areas most in need. That decision must be made immediately. Instead, we are all only made aware of it 3 to 4 months after the event. This is not ‘crime intelligence,’ it is a crime history lesson,” he added.

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