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Premier Winde 'concerned' over escalation in WC gang violence

Questions were raised last week about what happened to a comprehensive gang plan put together by a team of academics and community activists.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde (centre) on a patrol with local law enforcement, neighbourhood watch members and SAPS in Delft on 13 October 2020. Picture: @alanwinde/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape government is concerned that gang violence has resurged to levels last seen before the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

Questions were raised last week about what happened to a comprehensive gang plan put together by a team of academics and community activists.

Both Premier Alan Winde and the Community safety MEC Albert Fritz maintained the plan was implemented in part as part of the broader provincial safety plan.

Winde was troubled by the recent upsurge in gang violence. Even more so in the current climate of cost-cutting across government.

“We’ve only so far put 500 sets of boots on the ground, then COVID-19 came along and already we are under budget pressure as a province. It costs a lot of money,” Winde said.

A team of academics, community workers, and government officials took a year to formulate a comprehensive anti-gang plan, but last week two of the people who were on that team accused the provincial government of simply shelving the plan.

Winde said it was more complex than that. Aspects of the plan were rolled out, things like the deployment of LEAP officers.

But South African Police Service (SAPS) understaffing in the Western Cape was harder to solve.

“So far we have had a promise of almost 1,000 extra police officers, but we need 5,000 extra police officers, not 1,000,” Winde said.

Winde said the deployment of the SANDF did positively affect the crime rate, but it was never meant to be a permanent solution, and since the army left, the violence had spiked once more.

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