Mmusi Maimane. Picture: SUPPLIED
Mmusi Maimane. Picture: SUPPLIED

DA leader Mmusi Maimane says the deployment of the army to some of Cape Town's gang hot spots should not be seen as a permanent solution to the deadly crime wave gripping townships.

Last week, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) was sent to the Cape Flats to assist the overwhelmed police force to fight crime.

In a letter to National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise published in parliament on Friday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the deployment would last two months at a cost of just over R23m.

The government has previously acknowledged that the high level of violent crime in SA has a negative effect on the economy and deters tourism and foreign investment.

"We welcome the decision to deploy the SANDF to some of the Western Cape’s worst-hit areas,” Maimane said during a briefing in Bonteheuwel on the Cape Flats.

“The DA has been calling for this for years and too many innocent residents in these areas have already fallen victim to gang violence while waiting for this deployment," he said.

Maimane said, however, the permanent solution lies in turning the SA Police Service into a well-trained, well-staffed, well-equipped and highly motivated crime fighting unit. He also called  for the decentralisation of the police,  handing more control to the provincial and local governments.

“Where cities and provinces are up to the task, we should follow international trends by locating crime-fighting command as close to the affected communities as possible. The top-down approach clearly hasn’t worked, and decisions taken in Pretoria are often completely out of touch with the needs of the communities,” said Maimane.

“‘Localise, professionalise, specialise’ has always been the DA’s approach to policing — first in the Cape Town metro, and more recently in Gauteng’s metros, as well as in NMB (Nelson Mandela Bay). It is something we will continue to push for,” said Maimane.

Meanwhile, the DA Western Cape government said weekend murder statistics for the metro region were down since  the army arrived.

A total of 25 murders were recorded over the weekend by the province's forensic pathology services unit  compared with 43 last weekend and 55 a week earlier. Of the 25 people murdered, 18 were shot, four were stabbed and three died  through other causes.

Western Cape premier Alan Winde said: "This is still 25 murders too many, but we are pleased to see that the presence of the army is having some impact in our communities, who are tired of crime and living in fear."

Winde said the provincial government will be working on a long-term plan to address the root causes of crime, to stimulate more economic opportunities  and to ramp up services to high crime communities.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za