When freedom came in 1994, the criminals who had been feasting on Cape Flats communities, or indeed on South Africa, did not change their ways and become democrats filled with a resolve to build a new post-apartheid country.
On the contrary, the criminal underworld welcomed the political changes, but for reasons so far different than that held by the majority. They saw the transformation as an opportunity to expand and also to position themselves as an alternative state, similar to the narcos of South America.
Residents of Manenberg on the Cape Flats know all too well what it means to live in a patch of the township controlled by a particular gang led by a warlord who entices and very often forces young people into their gangster enterprises. Sadly, Manenberg is not the only part of our beautiful country where gangs operate with impunity.
Just as was the case in the apartheid era, these abhorrent practices are part of the fabric of South Africa. It can be argued that before 1994, favoured by the allocation of resources, white residential areas were safer than black communities. However, that is no longer the case and criminals have extended their operations into formerly whites-only suburbs. But the townships are still at the core of criminal targets.
There is no argument with the position that some SAPS members have become part of this gangster onslaught against democracy. Not all SAPS personnel are corrupt because there are honest men and women who toil against great odds to make a difference.
There is a major difference between our approach to stopping crime and that of the DA. The party that governs the Western Cape is known for blaming everyone but itself and making plenty of noise. It also positions itself as a liberal voice. In reality it is streaked with authoritarianism, which its why it can happily be the fascist EFF’s partner in Johannesburg and Tshwane.
Lennit Max, a former Western Cape Commissioner and once a leading DA member, is on record as pointing a damning finger at the DA. When he joined the ANC earlier this year, Max accused the DA of neglecting their constitutional responsibility at the expense of Western Cape residents.
He said that the DA, led by Helen Zille, had ignored his pleas to fight crime. Max actually confirmed what he had been saying for years: the DA has no solutions, but delights in politicising crime and blaming the national government.
We want to build a society where all are treated with respect and dignity and where no one is exploited or abused and people feel safe in their homes and on the streets. We are convinced that our country has not fully made the transition from apartheid to democracy.
It was good to send the army into the Cape Flats, but that is only a temporary solution. For a permanent solution, we need more than the SANDF. We need, as others have said, an army of doctors, social workers, nurses, psychologists, and other professionals to work in concert in healing our communities. We also need to upgrade the apartheid-era housing that the DA’s predecessors built. We need better trained SAPS officers.
We definitely do not want the DA’s private army, called the Metro Police, pretending that they’re Rambo We also need the different communities to become an integral part of this healing process because we will still need their co-operation after the army returns to its barracks. Without community support in this war against crime, criminals will continue to spread terror and continue to undermine our state.
One of the most important declarations of our seriousness to win is appointing a Police Commissioner who understands the Western Cape, wants to work with the community, will not take orders from Wale Street, and will have the support of the broader community. DM
Faiez Jacobs is the ANC Western Cape secretary
"Each man believes on his experience" ~ Empedocles