Zille diverts R6-million from education budget to fight Cape gangs
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Capetonians responded with anger at Premier Helen Zille’s decision earlier today to divert R6-million from the province’s education budget to fight brutal gangs in Manenberg.
Zille said this amount would be given to Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security member JP Smith. He said he already had been given R24-million this year “which would likely increase” to fight crime in the city.
Zille was flanked at the provincial government headquarters by Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille and two politicians employed to keep crime under control: Smith and provincial community safety MEC Dan Plato.
Zille’s decision comes after 14 schools in Manenberg were closed last week due to gang violence. At least 50 persons have reportedly already been killed or injured.
Zille said this “spike in gang violence” often “revenge killings” was linked to the release from jail of a prominent gang leader in the area.
De Lille said the R6-million would “have to be diverted from other priorities in education”. Zille said she did not have a “line by line” breakdown though of how this would affect the education department’s priorities.
Locals were unimpressed with Zille’s education budget slash. Capetonian Ferial Samodien Mohamed called it “very short-sighted” and said funds should be “procured from elsewhere”.
“This is a tale of two cities. The pristine conditions and services in the wealthy areas are maintained no matter what. But taking from education is taking from the poor,” she said.
“That’s why Zille is in no hurry to legislate (education) norms and standards so that she can dip into education whenever she pleases.”
Another local Armien Cassiem said this decision “clearly shows education earmarked for the poor is not their (Western Cape government’s) priority”.
“After all, their kids attend privileged schools,” said Cassiem.
And Fayruz Patton asked angrily: “Why take from education? Why R6-million? For what?”
“Why not reduce the salaries of over paid ministers or cut costs in other unnecessary areas? Cutting costs in education is illogical since the key component to reducing crime in poverty stricken areas is to educate,” said Patton.
Smith said Manenberg’s schools would reopen on Monday and three security personnel would be sent to each of the 14 schools. He said the R6-million would be used for the next four months to keep schools safe.
De Lille said she had authorised an increase of security staff in Manenberg to 114 metro and traffic officers that would “be withdrawn from service elsewhere” for the next two weeks.
“This prioritisation happens at the expense of law enforcement in other areas,” said De Lille.
“We will continue to appeal to the police to deploy additional resources to Manenberg, particularly during this increasingly violent time.”
Zille and her crew proceeded to spend a chunk of time blaming the national police ministry for not doing its job of securing the Western Cape.
Police minister Nathi Mthethwa has meanwhile agreed to meet Zille on Thursday this week to discuss the city’s bloody gang warfare.
Zille reiterated calls for the “deployment of the army” in the Cape’s gang hotspots. The national police ministry already said last week said she should sort out crime in the province and refrain from calling for military intervention.