Parliament’s police committee to probe effectiveness of SAPS anti-gang strategy

The SAPS anti-gang unit.

The SAPS anti-gang unit.

185 people have reportedly been killed in gang-related violence on the Cape Flats since March 2018.

Parliament’s police portfolio committee will on Tuesday evaluate the current anti-gang strategy of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in its first meeting of 2019.

In a statement on Sunday, committee chairman Francois Beukman said the SAPS’s ability to deal with organised crime, and specifically organised gangs, was key to ensuring that the recommendations of the national development plan about the re-establishment of specialised units was fully implemented.

The committee had invited civil society groups and community leaders from four provinces to the meeting to give testimony on their experiences and concerns about law enforcement in gang-infested areas.

Community groups from Gauteng, the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and Free State had been invited by the committee secretariat to the meeting on Tuesday. The groups included community police forums, civil society, and religious leaders. The committee remained of the view that police stations in gang-infested areas should have competent and experienced station commanders and the necessary resources to deal with the problems they encountered daily.

“The portfolio committee is of the firm view that the input of community members, community leaders, trade unions, and religious leaders is key to to deal with gang criminality. We are looking forward to listening their input and contributions.”

Beukman said the committee was very concerned about reports that more than 185 people had been killed in gang-related violence on the Cape Flats in the Western Cape since March 2018.

The number of young children who had been maimed or killed in cross-fire between gang groups was totally unacceptable. All role players, ranging from parents, schools, business, religious groupings and different levels of government, should work shoulder to shoulder to address the root causes.

“It is not a mere law and order issue, but inter alia a social-economic matter due to the legacy of apartheid spatial planning and lack of economic and social investment in the specific affected areas. The availability of illegal firearms in gang-infested communities is also a major concern and needs non-stop intervention by crime intelligence and the specialised unit of the DPCI (Hawks) dealing with Illegal firearms,” Beukman said.

The committee would seek assurances from national police management and the civilian secretariat on police on Tuesday to ensure that community police forums in hot-spot areas received the necessary support, he said.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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