South Africa deploys army to fight crime in Cape Town
A member of the public walks through the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) in the Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa, June 18, 2019. EPA-EFE/FILE/KIM LUDBROOK
Tourists enjoy the last rays of sun as it sets in the west over the Atlantic Ocean and under a huge heart sculpture at Camps Bay beach, Cape Town, South Africa, June 18, 2019. EPA-EFE/FILE//KIM LUDBROOK
Johannesburg, Jul 19 (efe-epa).- South Africa has deployed a special contingent of its army for the next three months to combat spiraling crime in Cape Town suburbs that have one of the highest crime and homicide rates in the world.
The measure was announced by South Africa's Police Minister Bheki Cele in parliament last week but the first few troops only began to be seen in the area on late Thursday.
The deployment continued on Friday, much to the relief of the residents, whose communities – most of them impoverished neighborhoods with a mostly black or mixed population – have become zones of violence where criminal gangs roam unchecked.
In the 12 months prior to March 2019, homicides grew 6.3 percent to a total of 3,963 cases, according to the estimates of the government of Western Cape province, where Cape Town is located. The province is the second richest in the country.
The escalation of crime is mainly concentrated in informal settlements spread over a vast area known as Cape Flats, located just on the outskirts of Cape Town.
"I am pleased that the employment of the army has commenced in certain communities to bring back safety. It is crucial that the army supports the stabilization of these areas so that the police can get to work in apprehending criminals," Western Cape Premier Alan Winde tweeted Thursday night.
"This can't be a long term solution, and we need to stand together, in partnership with the community and law enforcement agencies, in rooting out crime," he said in another tweet.
The exact number of troops to be deployed has not been revealed, only that the government intends to deploy them for about three months.
Despite being one of the most developed and among the most popular tourist destinations of Africa, Cape Town has also, in recent years, been moving up the list of the most dangerous cities in the world.
Lack of safety is one of the most serious problems facing South Africa, which is the most industrialized nations on the African continent.
According to official statistics, 57 South Africans are killed every day, making the country one of the most violent on the planet. EFE-EPA