Zuma yet to deploy army as crime in Western Cape rises
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula’s spokesman, Vuyo Magha, said an official request had been sent to the Department of Defence and Military Veterans who escalated it to Zuma, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Brigadier-General Mafi Mgobozi, spokesperson for the SANDF, confirmed that it had received a request from the police ministry for the troops’ deployment. That request was sent to Zuma’s office, he said..
“We are waiting still,” Mgobozi said.
After the brazen attack on alleged gang boss Jerome “Donkie” Booysen at Cape Town International Airport last week, fears are growing of the impact this and attacks on tourists could have on the normally busy tourist season.
Magha, said serious crimes at airports are of great concern. “The airports are the front doors to our cities and we recognise the great impact it has on the tourism sector as well as the economy. We had a string of incidents at OR Tambo International Airport and immediately set up task teams which helped curb crime. In Cape Town it is a bit different because gang violence has spilled over to many places,” he said.
Tim Harris, chief executive of Wesgro, said: “This incident (Booysen shooting) should not deter tourists from our beautiful city. They can rest assured their safety is a top priority.”
Johan Burger, senior crime researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), said sporadic shootings at places of interest should be easily handled.
“If police deployment at airports were better, then the police could have caught the perpetrators. This issue should have been handleable for the police,” he said.
“Airports are relatively safe places but are also easily accessible. A gunman cannot walk through the electronic scanners inside the airport, but the common areas on the precinct is a different situation. It also begs the question of where the police stationed at the airport were. If their deployment to certain areas on the airport precinct was better, there might have been an arrest.”
Burger cited as an example a US State Department safety advisory for OR Tambo International Airport following attacks on tourists as they leave the airport. “Overseas the word spreads fast. We cannot afford a negative message of our country.”
Alan Winde, MEC for economic opportunities, said the Booysen shooting is unlikely to affect December tourism. “But any violence leads to negative sentiments. High crime levels are not good for the economy.”