PEACE OF MIND: SAPS’ Anti-Gang Unit delivering on their mandate on Flats

The SAPS Anti-Gang Unit seems to be doing the job that was promised.

By all accounts, gang activity and shootings seem to have experienced a bit of a drop.

I’m hearing residents talking about feeling a little more at ease in their communities.

Parents are slowly starting to lose the anxiety that goes with their children playing in the streets, an activity that could, up until recently, have cost them their lives.

While it is still early days, these are encouraging signs of a slow and steady return to normality.

Most importantly, it is reminding residents what normal is and showing them that working with the police can benefit their entire community and Cape Town at large.

There was a hiccup last week when two members of the AGU were arrested by their colleagues on suspicion of theft.

A Mitchells Plain taxi owner accused them of stealing R15 000 from his safe during a raid on his property.

I could feel the collective disappointment from the Cape Flats when the story came to light.

But then I am reminded that while the unit as a whole is a good thing, it consists of human beings who can easily be tempted by money.

It is also an example of how easy it is for people to be tempted by the quick riches of the underworld.

All we can do is hope that the rest of the unit consists of honest cops who are determined to provide the Cape Flats with peace of mind.

Communities can feel the looming peace in the air and have taken up the challenge to use the new provincial tip-off line to report the location of guns, in return for a R10 000 reward for each successful discovery.

I’m told the tip-off lines have taken more than 70 calls so far, 31 of which have been credible.

One of the most serious hiccups was when the police union SAPU took SAPS management to court, wanting to shut down the new AGU.

At first, I was dismayed when I heard this until I understood what it was that they were objecting to.

It turns out that SAPS had not consulted with the union before establishing the AGU, as they were supposed to.

The union wanted to make sure their members were safe and being paid properly while in the AGU.

Police management has since admitted to the oversight and the union has now withdrawn the court case, so the AGU stays and is even being expanded nationally.

It has been absolute bliss to read about the successes they have achieved since their launch in Hanover Park six weeks ago.

High-profile gangsters are behind bars and loads of drugs and guns are off the streets.

I worry a little that the national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole held a media briefing recently without informing the provincial authorities about it.

It smells a little of electioneering, which would be worrisome.

Of course SAPS must be commended for what they are doing and of course, we should be grateful that the order for the AGU was finally given. But keeping our communities safe is the chief mandate of SAPS, anyway.

Any political party trying to use it to canvass votes is morally reprehensible, and it sends the message that Cape Flats lives don’t really matter at any other time.

But it’s Christmas time, so I want to believe this was done for all the right reasons.