All posts by Nigel Holmes

Adv Nigel Holmes Is a forensic examiner of white collar offences -Advocate of High Court and Part-time Commissioner at the CCMA - expert procurement panelist - areas of interest include labour law and business law, international human rights and constitutional law, administrative law and immigration law. He also provide consulting services in private and public sectors. contact me at for business enquiries.

Hanover Park Gangsterism debate continues for Military Assistance

Today I was again confronted with this sickening news from my home town Hanover Park. Gangsters paradise. The hideout of organised crime syndicates, drug and arms smuggling is big business.

Hanover Park – Where is it?

Hanover Park

German immigrants first settled in the area from the 1840s onwards and established a flourishing market garden enterprise, in which the Philippi Horticultural Area has its roots. The district also has historical attributes in that it typifies apartheid town planning. The area developed through the formation of racially segregated residential schemes, beginning in the 1930s and accelerating after the declaration of the Group Areas Act in 1950.

In 2011 the City of Cape Town reported a number of issues require consideration in respect of the Cape Flats District in relation to the City of Cape Town as a whole. These include the following:


The district has an approximate population of 550 000. While accommodating 15% of the City’s population, has the second highest rate of unemployment (31%). The lowest percentage of economic property (3.5% – of which commercial properties equal 8.3% and industrial 11.6%) in relation to the rest of the City, means that a large percentage of the people within the district that are employed, have to travel outside the district to access employment, often at great cost.


Among the poorest communities in the district reside in numerous informal settlements scattered across the district, as well as formal areas such as, inter alia, Nyanga, Manenberg, Hanover Park, Lavender Hill and Parkwood.

Gansterism crime and drugs

Every day somebody is killed in Hanover Park and the Cape Flats. Often not the gangsters or the terrorists involved in the conflict this has become the norm.

So let me first put you in the picture. Let’s start with some numbers that is available. Mr Dan Plato, former Mayor of Cape Town and Western Cape Ministry of Community Safety reported that for the period 1 January 2009 – 31 March 2012, just more than three years:

  • 87 cases of murder and attempted murder were reported in Hanover Park (26 murder cases);
  • Out of those 87 cases, 54 arrests were made in connection with only 51 cases. In 36 cases, not a single arrest was made; and
  • Not a single conviction has been secured for gang-related murder or attempted murder in Hanover Park over three years.

That is three years and three months, one community, 87 cases of murder and attempted murder, 54 arrests, zero convictions.

National Politics

The political sphere around this problem of gansterism in the Western Cape is mind blowing, in particular the Cape Flats, in that simple policing measures are made extremely complex. (see here for the ongoing political battle if you interested – I am not). A political battle between seemingly the ANC and DA – which is not helping. Which brings us to the SANDF and policing.

So let’s dig some more into the SANDF decision

We all know the challenge of transformation that faces the SANDF since 1994. The SANDF has drawn together former members of the South African Defence Force, former members of the military established in the Transkei, Ciskei, Bophuthatswana and Venda, as well as members of the armed wings of the liberation movements, Umkhonto weSizwe and the Azanian Peoples Liberation Army. All of them coming together in order to establish a new defence force that is committed to defending our country and upholding our Constitution. The SANDF is struggling with a lack of resources and finance but nonetheless let’s ask the question why our Constitutional jurisprudence is not helping the situation of an integrative policing approach involving SANDF, SAPS and the community.

One constitutional perspective to the SANDF decision

According to the Constitution – section 200(2), the primary object of the SANDF is –
“To defend and protect the Republic, its territorial integrity and its people in accordance with the Constitution and the principles of international law regulating the use of force.”

Our constitutional right to safety of a community is found in section 198(a) of the Constitution. It states that national security must reflect the resolve of South Africans, as individuals and as a nation, to live as equals, to live in peace and harmony, to be free from fear and want and to seek a better life.

The Constitution, in section 201(2), states further that political responsibility for the defence force lies ONLY with the President, as head of the national executive, who may authorise the employment of the defence force – (a) in co-operation with the police service…

This power is subject to certain requirements that must be complied with – section 201(3) states that when the defence force is employed for any purpose mentioned in subsection (2), the President must inform Parliament, promptly and in appropriate detail, of (a) the reasons for the employment of the defence force; (b) any place where the force is being employed; (c) the number of people involved; and (d) the period for which the force is expected to be employed. (Although, if one looks at the disaster of our deployment in the Central African Republic situation our President do not really apply the requirements of the Constitution.

Constitutional matrix or justification?

Another obstacle to getting government help to alleviate the situation in Hanover Park and the Cape Flats is the context in which arguably our Constitutional Law can be interpreted when faced with the question of the SANDF working within a civilian population in South Africa. For those in the know there is even a rational explanation for not approving a joint Military and SAPS intervention.

Our constitutional jurisprudence talks about being aware of our history and has cemented this on numerous occasions in our case law. So when assessing/balancing whether a right entrenched in our Constitution is violated one has to look at our history.

Now our history entails racial discrimination and the like and the gross human rights abuses by the Apartheid government. These abuses unfortunately for the Flats was particularly enforced by using Military and SAPS joint operations causing devastating human rights abuses. We all know this.

So it might be rational or even understandable when the ANC lead government spearheads a (knee jerk) reaction not to use the Military on the basis of the atrocities committed in the past when the SAPS and the Military worked together.

This is where our Chief (He is our first Chief) has failed us

Our President called his Ministers in to deal with the problem. The result was the Minister of Police’s understanding of the situation – found here In summary the Minister of Police believes this is a problem that needs to be combated holistically including NGO’s, social organizations etc. (other people to blame maybe but nothing wrong with that). BUT NOTHING ABOUT THE MILITARY.

He said gangsterism is a deep seated problem which is over 200 years old –  (This is why I placed the Group Areas Act date above). SAPS have everything under control and murders are down – (Not True).

Some would say the Minister of Police had a direct conflict of interest.  Just think of it this way – admitting that he needs help from the army would single that SAPS cannot do the job that he cannot do his job – why would he (or anyone in government) do that sat the moment. No wants to take responsibility. The Minister of Police with all due respect had no authority here (according tot he constitution) and made a statement which appears to suite his own interests.  The result deadlock – (deaths and no lock ups!!!).

Impact on the rights of the community

So for me there are various obstacles some I have mentioned before. But it’s the neglect of constitutional rights supported by the political climate behind the denial of military assistance that is devastating.

Not military enforcement – just assistance – more like presence.

One would ask why military assistance? (If you have been living in a hole outside of the Cape Flats). The simple fact is that the police cannot do their job effectively in these communities as it has been a problem since the Group Areas Act was implemented in 1950. They are unable to at the moment. Some say the reason is simply that everyday a conglomerate of crimes are committed in these areas. This is exasperated by widespread drug abuse by a millennium generation of youth with no prospects of work or education. The results are catastrophic and far-reaching.

Gangsterism as a whole is directly responsible for grave limitations to the constitutional rights of ALL communities it is a national problem depressing economic potential and the violating the rights to movement – you cannot even take public transport – there is no call in service and the big flats (Courts) on the Cape Flats are being fenched, security need I say more , education go look at the drop out rate at schools, health – the local Community Health Centre in Hanover Park looks like a Redcross Humanitarian hospital in Gaza together with bullet reinfoced fencing.

So let me just alert you to what happened over this weekend and you can tell me whether this situation is improving or whether the SAPS can handle it alone. (So when your kids ask you one day).

The Sunday a 10 year old child was shot in my mother’s Court/flats in Lomond Court Hanover Park (Story is available here This is apart from the killing of a man on his way to work on next Friday. (See

So let’s not beat around the bush here. People PLEASE consider this statement – like in the Apartheid years maybe you don’t really care whether your community is killed on a daily basis – ignorance is bliss. Maybe you believe it’s not your place – Maybe you think it is a race thing like most things in South Africa. Maybe it’s only the coloureds, blacks, the poor or the lower class killing themselves.

You try explaining to your child why you did nothing one day based on those reasons. Mr President we need the army give the approval.


The only one that worked to my knowledge (For a 7-10 year peace period) to some extent was POLICING SYNDICATES – Joint military and SAPS operations working with Community Peace Committees.

First posted April 2014 nothing has changed since. Insight may be updated weekly.