Residents more at ease after army deployment

SANDF members, Kraafontein police and City law enforcement patrolled in Bloekombos and other areas in Kraaifontein on Sunday July 21.

Kraaifontein residents say they feel safer in their community since the army arrived at the weekend.

This comes after Police Minister Bheki Cele announced on Thursday July 11 that the army would be deployed in the province’s top-10 murder precincts – Nyanga, Delft, Khayelitsha, Philippi East, Harare, Gugulethu, Mfuleni, Mitchell’s Plain, Bishop Lavis and Kraaifontein.

He said the army and the police would work together to cordon off and search areas and do patrols (“Mixed reaction to army plan,” Northern News, July 17).

Soldiers could be expected to be seen in crime-ridden communities for the next three months, he said.

Wallacedene Community Police Forum chairman Derrick Letlaila said a low-flying helicopter over his home on Sunday at about 1pm had alerted him to the arrival of the army.

He said he was happy to see foot soldiers, law enforcement and Kraaifontein police patrolling down the streets.

“Wallacedene is a community affected by drug and alcohol abuse and high murder rates. We believe that the presence of the army will create massive changes in our communities.

“Children and workers can now walk safely without being robbed, and we will be seeing a decrease in crime in the area,” he said.

Scottsdene resident Neville Sampson said the troops had arrived in Scottsdene at about 3pm on Sunday, July 21. Residents had stood watching as the armed men had patrolled.

“We can finally feel safe and no longer be held hostage in our own communities,” he said.

Scottsville Neighbourhood Watch chairman Gavin Riddles was more sceptical about the army’s presence.

“The sight of soldiers and police looked like a roadshow; they were just showing off. I have requested that base camp be put up in Scottsville, but this was ignored.

“We will see if the army will help us for the period they are here.”

South African National Defence Force spokesman Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi has told Northern News that the troops are expected to support the police.

“We will make sure we know our work and that the defence force knows its purpose, so when the area is cordoned off, the police do not have to look behind, and fear a threat,” he said.

In a statement on Monday July 22, Premier Alan Winde said he was pleased with the arrival of the army and it presence had already seen a reduction in crime.

The provincial government, he said, would be working on a “long-term plan to address the root causes of crime, to stimulate more economic opportunities and to ramp up services to high crime communities”.

All provincial government departments, he said,had a role to play in “ensuring that communities are supported and both the impact and the allure of crime are reduced”.

Kraaifontein police spokesman Captain Hein Hendricks said Kraaifontein had been quiet at the weekend.