THE Western Cape provincial government on Friday said it would welcome the deployment of the army to support the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the prevention and combating of crime including clamping down on gang violence.
The Presidency announced on Thursday that the South African National Defence Force had been officially deployed to Marikana and other areas. It said the soldiers would support the police "in the prevention and combating of crime as well as the maintenance of law and order ... where needed". Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said on Thursday that Cape Town, where the army was deployed last year, was one of the areas under consideration.
Last month, President Jacob Zuma rejected Premier Helen Zille’s request for soldiers to be deployed in gang hotspots such as Lavender Hill and Hanover Park. In July Ms Zille had asked Mr Zuma to send troops to curtail gang violence. At the time, at least 23 people had been killed in the province in six weeks.
"It is still unclear when, where and in what specific capacity the army would be deployed in the Western Cape but we would welcome it where it is done to support the SAPS in gang violence hotspot areas, as had been requested by Premier Zille in July," Ms Zille’s spokesman, Zak Mbhele, said on Friday.
"We await communication from the president to notify the Western Cape government of the terms of any army deployment in the province as soon as possible."
Policing matters in the province have been in the spotlight in recent months. Last month Ms Zille appointed justice Kate O’Regan and advocate Vusumzi Pikoli to lead an inquiry into policing matters in Khayelitsha, were a spate of vigilante killings took place.
Civil society groups believe the vigilante killings that rocked Khayelitsha earlier this year were a result of failed policing.
However, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa recently requested Ms Zille to delay the establishment of the commission of inquiry, saying that it was "premature" to set it up.
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