Friday, November 25, 2011

Army deployed in Lavender Hill

Eyewitness News reports that the army has been deployed to the Lavender Hill community:

The Steenberg Community Policing Forum (CPF) has welcomed the deployment of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members in Lavender Hill. Seven people have been killed in what is believed to be gang-related shootings in the area over the past three months. The CPF's Kevin Southgate says the army’s intervention is long overdue. “Desperate times call for desperate measures and we are happy that the army has finally been deployed in the area. We’re just hoping that the government will sustain this,” he says.

It is a sad moment when conventional policing cannot keep a community safe. I have pastored people from this community for the past ten years. In fact I began my connections with this community in 1986 and have kept touch with its life since then. It is mostly concrete housing units that are home to people who were forcibly removed from their roots by the Group Areas Act. These people were dumped on sea sand – please disregard the pretty name for the area! It was not long before gangs became the way of life for many of the unemployed young people, and many of the residents live in fear of the gangsters. So I do understand the sense of relief when the army trucks roll in. But this cannot be a solution for urban living.

The police are trained to keep people safe, and ensure that we all live securely. The arrival of the army admits the fact we all know – that that there is something wrong with the police. I know many loyal police men and women who live with integrity and fairness. But we have lost faith in the police force as an institution to hold us accountable to the laws of our land. The wealthy have hired private security companies to keep us safe. And now the poor are calling for the army. We as a nation need a change of heart, mind and soul – to discover how to live within the laws of our land.

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