CAPE OF FEAR
Police increase presence in Gugulethu after two officers slain in weekend of bloodshed
Following the killings of two off-duty police officers in Gugulethu, Cape Town, over the weekend, the SAPS has deployed more officers in the area.
The most recent mass killing in Gugulethu, in which Warrant Officer Lindela Mraqisa was killed on the night of Saturday, 30 September, was the final straw for the South African Police Service (SAPS).
The police have now set up roadblocks at the township’s entrances and exits to stabilise the area, halt murders and eliminate extortionists, kidnappers, criminal syndicates and gang kingpins.
This was the message from Police Minister Bheki Cele on Tuesday during a press briefing on crime in the Western Cape and the police’s Operation Shanela in Cape Town.
Cele said Operation Shanela was “a success-driven decisive policing approach in communities impacted by high levels of crime”. He said that since the adoption of this strategy in May, the SAPS had mobilised resources to ensure heightened police visibility.
Cele was joined on Tuesday by National Police Commissioner General Fannie Masemola and Western Cape Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile.
Police set up roadblocks in Gugulethu on Monday night after Mraqisa was murdered in a shooting that claimed four other lives. In another incident, Constable Asavela Mathe was killed on Sunday in Mfuleni. Police are looking for three suspects in connection with the murder of Mraqisa.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Weekend of bloodshed sees protection officer killed in mass shooting and police woman found murdered
While Cele was addressing the media on Tuesday, the suspect arrested for allegedly murdering Mathe briefly appeared in the Blue Downs Magistrates’ Court. The 30-year-old man is charged with rape and murder. He was remanded in custody pending his formal bail application which will be heard on 12 October.
Why is Gugulethu the focal point?
Although Cele underlined that police were focusing on Gugulethu, he said that the Cape Flats could not be disregarded.
“Yes, the focus for some reason has been on Gugulethu. If you have walked in Gugulethu, from Monday night you would realise a serious difference at the exits and entrance to the area of those semi-permanent roadblocks.
“If you go there, you realise that something has changed and we are going to keep it that way until the place has finally stabilised and we are satisfied that we have swept off all those ugly people there,” Cele said.
Over the past three years, terror has engulfed the townships of Khayelitsha and Gugulethu, which have seen repeated mass killings, believed to be linked to gang violence, extortion and kidnappings.
Patekile supported Cele’s view and emphasised there would be an increased police presence in Gugulethu until the situation had stabilised.
“We want to ensure that people in Gugulethu are safe and walk on the streets safely,” the provincial commissioner said.
Cele met several organisations in Gugulethu on Monday night, which raised the subject of intelligence and police station administration. The minister and police top brass will meet the community on Wednesday to listen to their concerns and present possible solutions.
The SAPS believes that a change in the management of the Gugulethu police station and general policing precinct will help to stabilise the region. Cele said that a decision on station management had already been made and a new station commander would be appointed this week. DM