Sending soldiers to the Cape Flats achieves little except enforced R'n'R for gangsters and criminals. The show of force of joint operations with the SAPS is just that - a show. The record in Cape Town shows how the underlying factors have remained unaddressed amid political blame-shifting and official indolence.
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was deployed in Manenberg, Cape Town, 21 years ago. Around 15kms from the pretty City Bowl and the luxurious Atlantic seaboard, a deadly conflict was under way across the Cape Flats between gangsters and Pagad, the anti-drug vigilantes, and between gangsters and other gangsters, that I reported on as a young reporter, then for Cape Talk.
On one of the first nights the SANDF were deployed to Manenberg I watched what unfolded into the early hours of the morning. Luckily it was in a branded car that provided some protection; onlookers knew I was a reporter, not a spook or spy. I returned several times over the next few weeks. The soldiers were polite, but firm. No shouting and skelling(berating) of residents like the police did.
Calm arrived in Manenberg. A curious calm. Young (gun)men disappeared. Older gang lieutenants and the bosses laid...