Police ministry: Zille should fix Cape crime

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Premier Helen Zille should fix crime in the Western Cape instead of calling on army deployment, said the national police ministry yesterday.

Zweli Mnisi, spokesperson for national police minister Nathi Mthethwa, said Zille and “those who are calling for the army to resolve such challenges are missing the point”.

“Let the provincial leadership provide essential services. We urge them to prioritise recreational areas, community upliftment programmes, proper schooling and drug rehabilitation programmes,” said Mnisi.

“The very same programmes which are found in affluent suburbs like Camps Bay and Constantia must be prioritised in poverty affected townships such as Gugulethu, Manenberg and Khayelitsha.”

Mnisi responded harshly to Zille’s open letter to Mthethwa issued to the media on Wednesday.
He said: “Is this a season of open letters where government leaders, instead of utilising appropriate structures or even face-to-face engagements, resort to open letters?”

“Our approach as the ministry of police is premised along engagements and lasting solutions, not public relations at the expense of something as serious as crime.”

In the letter, Zilled called on Mthethwa to meet her to discuss solutions to the Cape’s gang hotspots. This included Manenberg where 14 schools would remain closed today (FRIDAY), confirmed the education department yesterday.

Zille’s spokesperson Zak Mbhele said yesterday Mthethwa “agreed to the premier’s meeting request”.

“We’re encouraged… a discussion will take place next week (Thursday) that will hopefully lead to clarity and detailed, concrete information on the police’s strategy to deal with gang violence,” said Mbhele.

Mnisi comments suggested that the military would in all likelihood not be deployed on the deadly Cape Flats ganglands, as Zille had requested.

He instead criticised Zilled and provincial community safety MEC Dan Plato for “constant, negative criticism of police, which in our view, renders them prone to attacks and killings by criminals”.

“What we have seen as a trend from the provincial leadership of the Western Cape is affirmed by such approaches of engaging via open letters,” he said.

He added: “Mthethwa convenes a regular meeting with all MECs responsible for policing, where Plato is an attendee. In most (meetings) he never raises issues in this forum but immediately after, media briefings are convened and we have this blatant attack on the work of the police.

“We hold a view that such practices are not only discouraging all the hardworking police but also undermine our efforts in fighting crime. We do not expect him (Plato) to sing undeserved high praises to the police, but where police have done well, to give due credence.”

Mnisi referred to Plato’s recent “press conference where he lambasted the police leadership and provincial management accusing them of inefficiency”.

He said the police ministry was involved in combating the Western Cape’s substance abuse battles – often linked to gangs and crime – with the “establishment of technical task teams involving different government departments”.

“It is based on the National Drug Master Plan aimed at reducing demand, harm and supply, and which focuses more on prevention, early intervention, treatment and after-care and re-integration,” said Mnisi.

“South Africa is both a transit country and an end user country and over the last year alone 41 drug laboratories were closed down by the Hawks. The links between growing gangsterism and the illicit trade in drugs is also becoming a serious concern.”

Mnisi said the police was “now focusing on the arrests of drug empires or kingpins”. He said over the last two years 669 arrests had been made in which “about 298,804.847kg of drugs were confiscated with a monetary value of R95-million”.

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Calls for the army to step into the Cape’s fight against gangs should follow due process, said the defense force’s spokesperson yesterday.

Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga was responding to Premier Helen Zille’s calls for the army to step in as a peace-keeping force. This could only be authorised by President Jacob Zuma, after Parliament raises the matter.

Mabanga said “maintaining law and order was the duty of the police” though.

“However, should the police feel that the situation is overwhelming for them, then it is within the constitution that they may request support from the department of defense,” he said.

“After analysing the situation from the security point of view, the police may submit their request for support (to Parliament). Only the president can approve that. If Western Cape premier feels that it (the military) should be deployed the laws of the country prescribes these processes.”

Mabanga said the “concern in the Western Cape about gangsters is the responsibility of the police”.

He said a state of emergency would only be called by the president when the “security of the state is placed in danger or when something threatens national security”.

“It is not a provincial emergency. It implies the nation as a whole,” he said.

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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