Monday morning’s burning of Golden Arrow buses in Khayelitsha had the Democratic Alliance once again trying to drum up support for the idea of deploying the army to crime hot spots in Cape Town.
The party marched last month, led by Mmusi Maimane, to the Nyanga police station to attempt to force the ANC government to “honour their commitment to deploy the army to crime-ridden communities in Cape Town”.
DA spokesperson Portia Adams said the ANC national government had deliberately under-resourced the DA-run Western Cape province, and criticised its failure to deploy the army despite several promises by former police minister Fikile Mbalula.
“He said this would happen by Christmas of last year. But since then his successor, Bheki Cele, has completely backtracked on this promise.”
ANC Western Cape provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs, however, said Maimane’s call for military intervention had been based on “ignorance”, as there was “no evidence, anywhere in the world, that shows that deploying [the] military to fight crime works. In most cases, the longer the military stays, they become part of the problem, with a contest between deaths by gangs and deaths by [the] military,” said Jacobs.
“We want to make it clear therefore to Maimane that fighting crime is a complicated affair that is not simply a matter of ‘my gun is bigger than yours’, something that clearly eludes Maimane.”
Jacobs said R60 million allocated to tackle gang activity in gang hot spots needed to be used effectively with detectives who could blend into the community, and crime intelligence would have to identify and isolate gangsters.
Now, however, the DA has said that the burnt buses required the full attention of law enforcement to ensure those responsible were brought to book.
“Using the taxi strike and the legitimate issues raised by the taxi industry to vandalise and destroy transport infrastructure is unacceptable.”
Four buses were set alight near Cape Town early on Monday, leaving commuters on parts of the Cape Flats stranded as taxi drivers were about to embark on a strike.
Golden Arrow, Cape Town’s main bus operator, said the incidents were affecting its services in Khayelitsha, Delft and Nyanga.
The arson coincided with a planned strike by Cape Town minibus taxis over an unsettled dispute relating to the provincial leadership of the South African National Taxi Council.
The DA’s Cape Metro chairperson Grant Twigg said: “These acts of criminality are a direct threat to the lives of the people who use the buses and should be viewed with such severity. It is imperative that everything be done to ensure that the safety of the people receives top priority.
“The under-resourcing of the SAPS has left the province at the feet of criminals. Only the national government can make the decision to help the people of the Metro with additional safety resources.
“With the deployment of the SANDF, the infrastructure in the province can be secured, which would free up the SAPS to investigate and arrest the individuals who are responsible.”