Cape Town – “The army will only traumatise us, and especially the children.” This was the sentiment of a concerned mother of two teenage boys after the deployment of the army in crime hot spots to assist the SAPS for the next three months.
“We understand that the situation is out of control, but the gangs around here don’t even fear the army. We are now in a situation where we feel as if we are held captive by both the army and the gangs, because the army is just lurking around in corners while the gangs do the same and we have to remain indoors,” she added.
Since last November, more than 2000 people have been killed in gang-related incidents in 10 of the city’s hot spot zones. Since Thursday evening, SANDF members have been seen roving the streets of gang-ridden areas. Some walked among the people, heavily armed, while others patrolled in cars.
Two weeks ago, Minister of Police Bheki Cele announced that the army would be stepping in to help deal with the scourge of gang violence. Cele said the army would be deployed in areas which include, Khayelitsha, Manenberg, Delft, Bishop Lavis, Nyanga, Mitchells Plain, Elsies River, Mfuleni, Kraaifontein and Philippi.
In a study conducted by the Urban Safety Reference Group of the South African Cities Network, with support from UCT’s Centre of Criminology on violence and safety perceptions in Philippi East, harrowing results were revealed.
The initial survey results found that crime was the major concern of citizens in Philippi East, the vast majority of whom (90, 87%) had spoken about crime in conversations with family, friends or colleagues in the past two weeks.
A staggering 92.86% of the sample had been (themselves or another member of their household) victims of crime in the last 12 months, the majority of which involved home robbery and housebreaking, followed by murder.
Almost two-thirds of citizens had been personally affected by robberies, the study found.
Crime was at the top of minds in Philippi East – though less so in Marikana and Klipfontein. Most citizens reported that both violent and property crimes had increased in the last three years – this perception is significantly higher in Lower Crossroads and significantly lower in the Island informal settlement in Crossroads compared to the other areas.
The research also showed that guns were easily accessible in the Philippi East area. Many residents said they did not feel safe.
“Even people who know you don’t do anything to help you when you are being robbed because they are too afraid, they fear victimisation and we all sort of just understand. We welcome the army,” Neziswa Sijula told Weekend Argus.
“Maybe they will do for us what our police officers have failed to do,” she said.
In 2017, the Philippi East area was seen as a viable business and residential area with economic capabilities. The area is close to the airport and major transport routes and ideally located for business development.
Philippi East was part of the development node of the Wetton- Lansdowne Corridor Project of the Cape Metropolitan Area. In light of the above, the area’s murder rate per 100000 residents is alarming, and at 217, the highest in South Africa.