Cape Flats violence 'nothing to do with ineffective policing': defence minister
Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says violent crime on the Cape Flats has nothing to do with "effective or not effective policing", but rather the area's socio-economic conditions.
Responding to questions in the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday, Mapisa-Nqakula also asserted that the deployment of members of the defence force (SANDF) on the Cape Flats was a success, although she did not provide statistics.
Soldiers were deployed by national government to the Cape Flats in a joint operation with the police at a cost of R23m. This was in an attempt to tackle violent gangsterism that has resulted in an average of 40 murders per weekend over the past few months.
Tackling a question from DA MP Cathlene Labuschagne, the defence minister said the soldiers were successful in dealing with the Cape Flats' marauding gangs.
"The deployment of the SANDF in the Cape Flats is a success, in that where other state entities had lost access to areas engulfed with violence, the defence force has made it possible for them to access such areas as part of their service delivery mandate.
"Statistics and details can be made available to indicate what has happened in terms of operations by the police," she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula then moved to argue that the violent, drug-related crime on the Cape Flats was a result of the socio-economic setup of the area.
"The reality is that the challenges of the Western Cape, if we may say, have nothing to do with effective or not effective policing. They have everything to do with the socio-economic conditions of the people of the Western Cape.
"We were discussing as ministers, saying we can step in as ministers, assist the police, give them support so that they can deal with issues of gangsterism and the murders of our people here. But for as long as we do not address the hunger, the poverty, the conditions under which people live in this area, we'll continue to have this kind of problem.
"If you are going to find seven, eight or nine-year-olds carrying guns, smoking drugs, hungry, sleeping in the streets, you are bound to have this kind of situation.
"Young boys and girls cannot become part of the gang culture, young boys and girls should be home by sunset instead of being out in the streets, smoking nyaope. And this has nothing to do with politics in terms of who's governing who, this has everything to do with the welfare of South Africans," she said.
But DA MP George Michalakis, who's party governs the Western Cape, rejected Mapisa-Nqakula's assertion, arguing that the province had an unemployment rate below the national average.
Michalakis said the ANC-led government, which was in charge of the police, was to blame for violent crime on the Cape Flats.
He claimed national government had failed to employ enough police officers in the Western Cape.
But Mapisa-Nqakula stuck to her guns.
"I'm telling you, 90% or 99.9% has to do with the socio-economic conditions of our people, that's a reality.
"We're told stories that some of the children are on retainer by the gangs. In order words, gangsters will give you money for all of the things you wish for as a child, which your father or your mother cannot afford. That's their way of attracting you and the next thing is take a gun, go and shoot that old lady or that gangster from that other group. These are things that are happening," she said.
Commenting of about the death of soldier whose body was found burnt in the boot of his car on Sunday on the Cape Flats, Mapisa-Nqakula said the man in uniform was not part those sent to tackle gangsters.
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