Police Minister Fikile Mbalula File picture: Jacques Naude/ANA Pictures

Briefing media ahead of his budget vote, Mbalula said in some instances gangs took ownership of communities and this resembled a military coup.

“It threatens national security if our communities will be in the pockets of gangsters and at the mercy of gangsters…meaning these people can conduct a coup d’état (sudden, violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group),” the minister said.

“Gangsters come and own communities and they become minister of social development and give out money to communities in Mitchell’s Plain, in surrounding areas…they even have got stands. They call themselves generals,” he said

Mbabula said the greed and power of skollies needed to be challenged by police.

“We say to our people don’t protect gangsters but we understand our communities are under siege and it is our responsibility to ensure that we unshackle our society from the fear and the greed of criminals and gangsters.”

He warned that unlike in the Brazilian favelas (slums), there were no no-go areas for police.

“Here in South Africa there is no thug or gangster that can stop us from searching them.”

But, Mbalula warned corrupt elements in the police had to be rooted out, or the threat to national security would remain.

“Some of our police force members are accused of being in the pockets of the gangsters. It’s a problem for national security because we can be turning this way fighting crime then there are those who will be collaborating and undermining our efforts because they are in the hands of the police,” he said.

“In no time crime becomes business, you become rich just by collaborating with criminals…that’s the matter I whisper to the deputy minister every day. Who bought you these shoes? Is it still within budget?”