South Africa: 'Vang Die Varke' - SANDF Receives Hero's Welcome in Manenberg

(file photo)

Seven days after the announcement that the SA National Defence Force would be deployed to Cape Town's gang-ravaged areas, soldiers on Thursday received a hero's welcome when the army carriers slowly made its way through Manenberg and Hanover Park.

"We've been waiting!" Armien Daniels shouted as the vehicles snaked its way through Manenberg Avenue, also known as "Die Laan", one of the main arteries in the neighbourhood less than 20 km outside the city bowl.

"Kom wys die gangsters nou 'n lekker tyd! [Come show these gangsters a good time!]"

Stop and search operations as well as roadblocks were held by police under the watchful eye of the soldiers. Pedestrians stared at the rifle-carrying reinforcements, most who responded with a greeting or a nod.

Their boots hit the ground exactly a week after Police Minister Bheki Cele announced in his budget speech that President Cyril Ramaphosa had given the go-ahead for soldiers to enter 10 violent crime-ridden areas on the Cape Flats.

The precincts identified for support by the SANDF are Manenberg, Hanover Park (Philippi), Bishop Lavis, Mitchells Plain, Delft, Elsies River, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Mfuleni and Kraaifontein.

Soldiers started arriving in the city on Friday, but paperwork giving the deployment the go-ahead stalled the process.

Troops received "mission readiness training" over the past week, including the objectives of the mission, expectations of troop conduct and preparation for engagement with the public.

While on foot patrols, Manenberg locals shouted words of encouragement at the soldiers, commanding them to "vang die varke" (catch the pigs).

An emotional Mariam Bosch says she hasn't felt this safe in months. "We are living in a war zone where they shooters think nothing about life. I am happy they are here; at least we have a few hours of quiet. But what happens when they leave?"

Mariam Bosch welcomed the defence force to her neighbourhood, almost tearful as she relayed how volatile the area has been in recent months.

"Seeing them brings me some peace. For once I am not scared to stand outside. It's sickening that we have to live like this, prisoners in our homes. We need them," she insisted.

"But I worry about what will happen once things are stable again. Because when they leave, it's just us and the police again. We'll be back at square one. What is the long term solution, then?"

Mother of four Vanessa Jantjies said it was wonderful to see the children outside after being kept indoors by their parents as bullets rained down in Manenberg.

"This is a great day. It feels like I was locked up and I have freedom again. It's not pleasant living here, being forced into a life of hiding from gangsters," she said.

Children sat on the roadside, watching the soldiers in awe.

"I am going to be one of them one day," one little boy said.

"They carry guns but don't shoot and chase people who did nothing to them. That's what the gangsters do. But those guys are the good guys. And they wear nice uniforms."

Eric Dirks said it was "obvious" that military intervention was needed to restore order to gang-ridden areas like Manenberg.

"Whether we like the militarisation of our communities or not, things were out of control. But my concern surrounds ending this gang situation once and for all. What is being done to address poverty and the hopelessness our people feel? How are the root causes of this situation, like substance abuse and dispossession, being solved? Until we get to the bottom of it, we'll have the same problem tomorrow. It will never go away."

Source: News24

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