W Cape SANDF deployment - Crime deterrent or a case of 'hell might break loose'?

Late on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa gave the green light for the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in areas of Cape Town where crime, gang violence and killings have surged to unprecedented levels.

The ten identified precincts include Mitchells Plain, Delft, Philippi, Nyanga and Khayelitsha.

A crime summit is also taking place over the weekend, which includes a number of national ministers.

RELATED: W Cape Premier welcomes army to Cape Flats but says economic plan is crucial

CapeTalk's Africa Melane speaks to Ntsikelelo Breakfast from Stellenbosch University's School of Security and African Studies and Nyanga community policing forum chairperson Martin Makasi for two very different takes on this development.

Dr Breakfast acknowledges that the army is expected to provide a support service to the South African Police Service (SAPS), but says this might turn out very differently in practise.

If a conflict breaks out and you have military officers - I'm sorry to say this, but hell might break loose because then you have people who don't use rubber bullets, who are using live ammunition and that might spill over negatively to civilians.

Ntsikelelo Breakfast, School of Security and African Studies - Stellenbosch University

Yes, they won't be searching people's houses, they won't be arresting people because they are not trained to do that, but the capability that they have is dislocated in the sense they are displaced if they are going now to manoeuvre at an operational level.

Ntsikelelo Breakfast, School of Security and African Studies - Stellenbosch University

He also emphasises the point that the SANDF deployment, initially scheduled for three months, is not a long-term solution.

I think that SAPS needs to beef up its capabilities. They need to improve their training because I'm told that some of the police officers are also traumatised - they don't want to be deployed to those problematic areas, so something needs to be done.

Ntsikelelo Breakfast, School of Security and African Studies - Stellenbosch University

Chairperson of the Nyanga community policing forum Martin Makasi explains why the community is relieved at the prospect of an army presence.

He says though, that it's hoped the City of Cape Town metro, along with law and traffic enforcement and also national government departments, will also play their part in addressing rampant crime in the affected areas.

What we want to see is a return to the respect of the law... We need to see that there is normalisation and stabilisation, but that can only happen if other government departments are also playing their part. Safety is everybody's responsibility.

Martin Makasi, Chairperson - Nyanga community policing forum

Makasi says the most important factor is the visibility of law enforcement - he is hoping that the SANDF deployment will bring down the incidence of related crimes like car hijackings.

But what happens when the army is no longer there?

Makasi is hopeful that the weekend's safety summit will deliver a clear plan on moving forward.

Listen to the conversation below:


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