Cape CPFs divided on army deployment

SAPS members during a "lock-down, search and seizure operation" in Philippi East on Friday morning. Photo from SAPS Twitter page

Members of the South African National Defence Force were expected to be deployed in gang and crime ridden areas of Cape Town on Friday.

Philippi East Community Police Forum says that the situation was quiet on Friday afternoon after a large number of police were deployed in the area. This follows last week’s announcement by Police Minister, Bheki Cele, that the army will be deployed in Cape Town’s gang ridden areas. 

The raids started in Philippi East on Friday morning but there were no members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). According to media reports, the soldiers are expected to join the police at a later stage of the operation.

Speaking to Elitsha, Neo Motinyane, the chairperson for Philippi East Community Police Forum the situation was calm on Friday afternoon following a police raid that started as early as 2 a.m. in the morning. “The situation is calm at the moment but I have seen on social media that people are complaining about their doors being kicked down by the police,” he said.

“But we can’t complain about damage to property when lives are being lost due to crime in the area,” said Motinyane. Six people were shot and killed in the area last weekend.

However, the deployment of the army has received mixed reactions from different community police forums as reported by Elitsha.

Policing expert, Johan Burger, from the Institute for Security Studies said that even though he understands that people want to see the government doing something about high levels of crime and killings, the deployment of the army has big risks.

Burger cited the fact that soldiers are not trained in police work and that if they have to carry out arrests this could lead to perpetrators being cleared of charges because of improper or illegal arrest.

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According to Burger, there are international examples, as in Brazil and Northern Ireland, of the army being deployed to assist the police. The Brazilian army’s involvement in police operations in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro resulted in a high number of people being killed, according to a report by Al Jazeera.

The police ministry will be hosting a two-day crime summit in Paarl over the weekend.

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