Six of them were shot in one raid in Samora Machel, Nyanga, last week.
So now I ask you, how are we going to win this war when the soldiers on the ground are being attacked in such a brazen manner?
It’s almost as if those gangsters were trying to send a message to the unit: leave us alone, ignore our activities or suffer the consequences!
I don’t know about you, but despite not being one for exaggeration, this particular shooting has left me feeling utterly helpless and deflated.
And that’s no mean feat, considering my generally sunny and optimistic disposition. So what now?
Let’s first acknowledge that what is happening on the Cape Flats is not normal. Senseless murders of young people, rapes, vicious assaults, brazen robberies, brutal hijackings and general lawlessness are so pervasive that we have become desensitised to it.
We shake our collective heads and angrily type our Facebook posts over an adolescent who dies in a hail of gang initiation bullets.
And then we move on to the next bit of brutality to be outraged about. This daily diet of violence is not normal, people, so we must employ extraordinary measures to resist normalising it even further.
It is also a multifaceted problem, requiring multifaceted and innovative thinking that attacks both the symptoms and the causes simultaneously and from all possible angles.
In other words, we need blanket action from government and citizens alike.
And I am personally prepared to suffer a few police-state-like inconveniences, like being randomly searched to see gangsterism and the threat of violence eradicated.
I reckon it would be the lesser of two current evils. And while I don’t believe that funding as a silver- bullet solution to everything, I do believe this is a situation where throwing money at the problem will make an immediate and noticeable difference.
So let’s start with redeploying police officers from areas with less crime to Cape Town, just like we send graduate doctors to the most needy parts of the country.
Civilian volunteers can take over police station admin, freeing up even more officers to flood the streets of Cape Town with cops for a prolonged period of time.
Stop saying that the army isn’t trained for urban policing. If we started training them years ago when gang warfare was at its height, they would have been of immense use by now.
Armies also have to evolve and move with the times.
And in today’s world, they are more likely to be needed in an urban setting, supporting social initiatives, than they are to be fighting wars on a battlefield somewhere.
Besides, we are at peace, with virtually no natural enemies, or military threat against us.
So let’s train our soldiers to do some support policing, partnering with cops in a buddy system.
The officer can do some on-the-job training while doing his policing, while having a soldier as a bodyguard. We would literally double our capacity in no time, while also discouraging gangsters from challenging a cop in a gunfight.
Let’s look at some laws. Premeditated attacks on police officers shouldn’t simply be parcelled alongside everyday criminality.
It should be legally declared a crime against the state, an act of treason that is punished accordingly.
Using advanced forensics and ballistics, suspects should be charged with every crime committed with the gun found on them.
SARS must actively pursue criminals who live above their obvious means. Let’s confiscate some fancy cars and other proceeds of crime and give it to the soldiers to police with.
All while crime intelligence is busy in the background looking for clues and new leads.
Part of their job must involve paying handsome rewards to valuable informants, building strong cases and even bugging cellphones (again, I don’t mind the invasion of privacy. Invade away, I say).
In addition to the ballistics, other technology should form an active part of this offensive.
For example, I saw a suggestion that drones could’ve helped with the raid that resulted in the six casualties.
There should be drones permanently flying over the Cape Flats and looking down with infrared cameras that can spot concealed and hidden guns on people and inside houses.
They will be able to track stolen cars and even identify suspects using Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition and transmit that information to the nearest patrol car, which of course will have a cop and a soldier inside.
Another online comment I like, is that of an economic upliftment unit of some sort, working hand-in-hand with the hard crime-fighting.
Their job must be to look at ways to address the social challenges of joblessness, hunger, hopelessness, trauma and abuse.
They must also serve as diversion counsellors and mentors for youngsters.
Their programmes will be able to take place relatively unhindered with police and soldiers patrolling around the clock and keeping them safe.
There are many people out there doing good work and I believe more will join if their safety can be assured and they can see the chance of successfully turning things around.
The most important part of this solution will be the citizen involvement.
We will all have to jump in and do out little bit to help make this a success.
And that all depends on how fed-up we are with the ongoing violence and daily threat of violence against us.
If each one of us did the right thing - report a relative with an illegal gun; refuse to buy stolen goods; force our addicted son into rehab; tip off police about a planned robbery; speak up against vandals; protect schools and ambulances; even just stop littering - then a movement like this could really have an impact.
Of course a holistic, multi-departmental and multi-disciplinary project like this will also require some serious and long-term political, financial and corporate will.
And everyone involved will have to commit to run with it for as long as it will take.
I suspect it will take a very, very long time. But we can’t afford not to try.