Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and his Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz on Monday welcomed the news that the South African National Defence Force’s deployment would be extended by six months.
Winde, who had repeatedly called for the deployment, also this month called for an extension to the original two-month deployment, which was due to end on Monday.
He had requested an extension from President Cyril Ramaphosa and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, on condition that certain undertakings were met.
The presidency on Monday confirmed the extension until March 31, 2020.
“We wrote to the President to request the extension because we believe that the army can play an important role in peacekeeping in some of our communities most impacted by crime,” he said.
“In our letter to the president, we set out very clear conditions for an extension, because we believe that the effectiveness of the army needs to be maximized, and the outcomes of their deployment monitored. It is unclear at this stage whether the president, and the ministers of police and defence will be implementing the conditions we requested.”
The statement repeated the six points the provincial government would like to see implemented.
The deployment from July 18 until Monday was at a cost of R23m. It is not yet clear how much the extension will cost.
Fritz welcomed the extension but cautioned that the success of the initial deployment needs to evaluated against a wider systemic reality.
“Whilst the number of murders remains relatively unchanged compared to prior to the deployment, the deployment has been successful in affecting arrests, particularly of wanted suspects,” he said.
“The issue lies with the criminal justice system as a whole. It is not enough to ensure arrests, we must also ensure convictions. More than ever, we need to ensure that our criminal justice system is fully capacitated.”
He said an adequate number of police officers needed to be on the ground, detectives needed to be properly trained, courts needed the appropriate inputs to convict criminals, and correctional services should not be overcrowded.