Army not equipped for crime

Dr Llewellyn MacMaster, chairperson, United Public Safety Front (UPSF)

In recent months there has been a call from a certain political party to the government to deploy members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to Cape Flats communities to combat gangsterism.

The UPSF does not support this call to deploy the army in communities.

We note the comments of the head of the SANDF that they are not trained in policing gangs and we support this. As civil society we should not be inviting the army into civilian life.

History is replete with examples of armies becoming comfortable with governing civilian life in peacetime.

The soldiers are trained in the doctrine of military warfare.

Soldiers therefore are not equipped to perform policing functions.

Neither are soldiers trained in the legal principles of criminal law and procedure to assist the South African Police Service (SAPS) to investigate and prevent crime.

Rather than calling for the deployment of the SANDF on the streets in the Cape Flats, much work can be done by all levels of government to increase the deployment of law enforcement officials in our communities.

The government, and especially the police should also work harder to cultivate better trust relationships with communities to improve community policing and cultivate a supportive professional police service in areas affected by high levels of gangsterism and crime.

Government at all levels should also ensure that the criminal justice system becomes an effective machinery to arrest the scourge of gang violence.

Many more dedicated resources must be committed by departments at all levels in the government to combat gang violence.

The UPSF rejects short-term, knee-jerk responses to combating the complex problems of gangs on the Cape Flats.

The deployment of the SANDF to Cape Flats communities is the wrong one and will not be supported.

Instead, we call on the Civilian Secretariat for Police to embark on a public education programme with the aim of building better trust between the police and the community.

See page 4