Residents of several Cape Town precincts have suffered through outbursts of gang-related violence for years, and are frustrated by ineffective attempts by the police to end the bloodshed. Now the army has been deployed to particularly dangerous areas of the South African city, after a weekend during which 43 people were murdered.

Units of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) began rolling into Cape Flats on July 18, a week after South Africa’s police minister first announced what is being called Operation Prosper. For the next three months troops will support police to quell violence and give overworked police an opportunity to restore general law and order and investigate outstanding cases.

For many people living in the ten precincts covered by the military deployment, the presence of soldiers on the streets is a sorely needed show of force against gang members, many of whom battle rivals for drug sales turf. But critics say the state should not use the army to help in the battle against stubborn crime, pointing out that soldiers’ training differs markedly from that given to police officers and that the creeping militarization of public life undermines efforts to tackle unemployment, poor health and a lack of opportunity that is fueling criminal behaviour.

On Thursday we’ll ask our panel if army deployments are the answer to Cape Town’s indelible reputation as one of the world’s deadliest cities. Join the conversation.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with: 

Albert Fritz, @AlbertFritz_DA
Minister of Community Safety, Western Cape

Ziyanda Stuurman, @ZiyandaS_
Visiting Fulbright Scholar

Fahkier Mohamed
Imaam and Community Activist

Henriette Abrahams
Community and Social Justice Activist


Read more:
The army will be deployed in Cape Town. Here are the pros and cons – News24
The army is being used to fight Cape Town’s gangs. Why it’s a bad idea – The Conversation

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