Cape Town – A public seminar to explore the deployment of soldiers to the streets of the city’s gang-ridden communities will be held on Tuesday by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).
The seminar will be chaired by Dr Andrew Faull, senior researcher: justice and violence prevention at ISS, at 6 Spin Street.
Faull said the seminar would bring community and youth voices into the conversation. “Speakers will talk about life in affected areas, and the ‘big picture’ problems that must be fixed for violence to stop and communities to thrive.”
He said soldier deployment was the result of calls from communities and the provincial government after years of unresolved violent crime, “much of it gang-related”.
“While some celebrate the arrival of soldiers on the streets, others warn that they distract from the holistic, structural interventions that are needed,” Faull said.
“Deploying soldiers to the Cape Flats appears intended to notify violent offenders of the consequences of their actions. What’s missing is the provision of priority social services for those targeted who want a change,” he said.
Among the speakers will be Martin Makazi, Nyanga community policing forum chairperson, Tristan Johannes from the Chrysalis Academy, and Professor Rajen Govender from UCT.
Makazi said his presentation focused on the impact of soldiers in communities and what comes next.
“The bigger problem was environmental design that increases crime in our communities. Now that we have soldiers, is the government focusing on mapping and spatial design for these communities?” Makazi asked.
“As much as we see no difference in Nyanga, also we see no difference in service delivery. Politicians must stop politicising crime.”
Bonteheuwel ward councillor Angus McKenzie said communities pushed hard for the deployment of the army.
“This was specifically due to police inability in keeping communities safe. This is a result of no visible policing, lack of police skills and sadly corrupt police officials.”
McKenzie said the army deployment in it’s current state had made little to no impact due to the manner in which that deployment had taken place.
“A few critical questions remain to be answered after three weeks of deployment: how many arrests have been made and appeared in court, how many firearms have been retrieved, how many drugs were confiscated and how many drugs houses were closed using the Proceeds of Crime Act?” McKenzie said.