'Army must fight gangs'
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has yesterday called on the South African National Defence Force to intervene in the recent spate of gang "wars" raging in the province.
This follows another shooting at a funeral over the weekend, in which four men masquerading as mourners shot and wounded two people.
Four women, who fled the scene in a separate car to the attackers, were arrested with two unlicensed firearms in their vehicle.
Zille said yesterday that drug-related gangs were now "beyond the capacity of the South African Police Service to control" and that the army had to be called in for support.
"[The police] need the support of the [army] to restore order," she said.
But she said any army intervention should only be temporary.
"Although we correctly describe the retributive violence between gangs as 'warfare', we are not in a civil war. This means that the role of the army is merely to create the space for the police to do their jobs effectively."
However, Zweli Mnisi, Police Ministry spokesman, said no decision had been made regarding the involvement of the army.
"In the Western Cape, we have one of the most experienced provincial police commissioners in Lieutenant-General [Arno] Lamoer and as police leadership, we remain confident that, together with his team, [Lamoer is] more than capable of tackling crime within the province."
Western Cape police spokesman Warrant Officer November Filander said it was still unknown if the recent shooting - at the funeral of known gang member Peter Meyer in Ottery on the Cape Flats - was gang-related.
The men fled in a taxi but the women were arrested shortly afterwards when they, too, sped away from the cemetery in a black Mercedes-Benz.
Filander said police were not able to stop the taxi but when they stopped the car they found four women and two firearms inside.
The serial number on one of the guns had been filed off and the other one had been reported stolen in nearby Grassy Park.
The women were expected to appear in the Wynberg Magistrate's Court today. The condition of the wounded - a 65-year-old woman from Mowbray and a 21-year-old man from Kraaifontein - was not immediately known.
Zille said more than 130 gangs with a collective membership of approximately 100000 existed in the poorest communities of the Western Cape.
She added that tik has intensified the extent of gangsterism in the province.