12 July 2019

South Africa: Cele, Sitole Brief Officers Before Start of Cape Flats Anti-Gang Operation

Police Minister Bheki Cele, his deputy Cassel Mathale and National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole briefed dozens of officers during the early hours of Friday morning, ahead of their deployment into Philippi East and surrounding areas.

On Thursday, Cele, speaking during his budget speech in Parliament, announced that President Cyril Ramaphosa had approved the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to assist police to crack down on gangs and gang violence on the Cape Flats.

The minister said he spoke to his counterpart in the defence department, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, earlier this week following the murders of 13 people in Philippi in 24 hours last weekend.

READ: 'I could hear the gunshots from church' - Philippi mom who lost daughter in deadly shootings

The Democratic Alliance, which governs the Western Cape and Cape Town, has been calling for the involvement of the army in curbing gang violence for several years.

Last year, DA leader Mmusi Maimane wrote an open letter to Ramaphosa calling for the SANDF to be deployed.

"The residents of gang-ridden communities have made it clear that they want the army to help protect them. Your government has a duty to protect South Africans from crime and criminals, and I urge you to act accordingly," Maimane wrote at the time.

However, on Thursday, Cele denied the president made the decision based on the DA's calls.

He said government made the call after listening to community policing forums.

It's unclear when the SANDF will move into the Cape Flats.

On Friday morning, Cele, Mathale, Sitole and other senior police officials addressed officers before they started an operation in Philippi East.

#sapsWC Police Minister, General Bheki Cele addressed a parade before deployment in Philippi East this morning at 02:00 to ensure that #CrimeMustFall NP pic.twitter.com/neD40ma1U4-- SA Police Service (@SAPoliceService) July 12, 2019

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