Zille's open letter to Mthethwa

Zille has written a letter to Nathi Mthethwa asking for the army to be deployed to gang-riddled areas.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has written an open letter to Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa requesting the army to be urgently deployed to gang-riddled areas.Picture: Catherine Rice/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has written an open letter to Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa requesting the army to be urgently deployed to gang-riddled areas.

Several Cape Town communities have been plagued by gang violence in recent weeks.

Zille's spokesperson Zak Mbhele said decisive intervention was needed.

"We were promised a five point police plan to deal with gang violence. Whether or not that's been fully implemented is not clear because we haven't received any information or updates on that. But if it has been it's clearly not working."

He said army and police could work together to fight the problem.

"It's never about asking for permanent deployment. It's not about asking the army to take the place of the police. It's just to be an extra helping hand in peacekeeping patrolling so the police have space to do their core work of investigation and arrests."

In 2012, a request by Zille to have the army deployed to gang hotspot areas was turned down by President Jacob Zuma.

Government said the army was not trained to deal with civilians.

MANENBERG TRAUMATISED

Manenberg has been one of the communities hardest hit following a surge in gang-related shootings.

Several people, mostly bystanders, have been killed in the recent spike of violence between rival gangs in the community.

Earlier this month, when Eyewitness News visited the community, suspected rival gang members were shooting at each other in the middle of the day.

The provincial education department has decided to close all schools in the area until Monday after a caretaker at Sonderend Primary School was shot while locking the school gates.

The school has reported that only about 200 of 900 learners attended school last week.

Learners also stayed away from school on Wednesday in hopes of a solution to the situation.

Western Cape Social Development MEC Albert Fritz has pledged more funding and called on non-governmental organisations to intensify their programmes in Manenberg.

Late last month, the People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) intensified its campaign against gangs and drugs in the province by leading a motorcade through the streets of Heideveld and Manenberg.

The controversial anti-crime organisation called on communities across Cape Town to rally behind its initiatives.

Pagad's Abdus-Salaam Ebrahim said, "We need to mobilise and have a united front against the scourge of gangsterism and drugs."