South Africa: Bheki Cele Hints At Re-Establishment of a Specialised Gang Unit in the Cape

26 September 2018

The Western Cape's disbanded specialised gang unit may be re-established, Police Minister Bheki Cele told Total Shutdown protesters in Bonteheuwel on Wednesday.

Cele made the announcement after violent protests against poverty and gangsterism throughout the province on Wednesday.

"The justice cluster will have a meeting where [the departments of] home affairs, police, defence, [and the] prosecution will be together. We are finalising the presidential announcement on the stimulus on security," Cele said.

"What we are expecting to happen is the announcement of a special unit of gangsterism in the Western Cape.

"This question is asked time and again, why the original unit was disbanded... We finally have an answer. We are bringing back that unit to work with the people of Western Cape."

In 2003, the Western Cape police's specialised gang unit was disbanded by then police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

Operation Combat was created in 2010 and focused on taking down high-ranking gangsters in the province and prosecuting them under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

Cele also said that he would assist in facilitating an imbizo between the government and the affected communities.

"We will invite local government. Remember, government must work in tandem - national, provincial and local," he said to jeers from the audience.

Earlier, Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith and local councillor Angus McKenzie were ejected from the meeting at the behest of the protesters.

Protesters claimed that Smith and McKenzie were trying to use the community's social ills to their political advantage.

"If they don't come, we will do what we have to do. No political tags will be attached," Cele continued.

"We will bring all the roleplayers, including the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to work hard for these criminals not to get bail."

Total Shutdown leader Henrietta Abrahams demanded improved visible policing and asked that certain areas on the Cape Flats be declared disaster areas.

"When we say visible policing, they say there [are] no resources," she said.

"What is happening here is similar to the fires in Knysna. We want the same amount of attention, resources and priority. We are not a priority because we are poor and working class."

She said that police must patrol gang hotspots, such as schools and train terminals.

Source: News24

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