Politics has no place in combating crime, said DA leader Mmusi Maimane in Bonteheuwel, Cape Town, on Monday after 25 people were murdered this past weekend - down from 43 the previous weekend.
Speaking ahead of a neighbourhood stabilisation unit (SU) patrol against gangsterism and crime, Maimane said politicking over crime had to stop.
"Part of my visit today is not only to celebrate the work the government is doing, but also to continue the fight all across the country against criminals," he added.
"I think the war on crime: South Africa is busy losing. Therefore, it is beyond politics. What is required now, from the national police minister and provincial MECs to councillors, is that we have an integrated strategy.
"Because it's not just about the Western Cape. It's beyond the DA, ANC, these are citizens now.
"And therefore, we need to say all across the country: 'Let's stop the politicking, there's no need for the politicking, let's work together to fight crime'."
Maimane was accompanied by Safety MEC Albert Fritz, who is also the DA's deputy provincial leader, provincial leader and Transport MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela and DA Eastern Cape leader Athol Trollip, the ousted mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality.
Local councillor Angus McKenzie said since extra measures taken by the City of Cape Town with the SU's launch in Bonteheuwel on July 2 there had been no murders in the suburb.
"It's a miracle," added McKenzie.
As Maimane arrived, a group of SU members peeled away from their platoon and ran off to their vehicles and sped off in the direction of an "incident", sirens blazing.
The intention is for them to do foot and vehicle patrols because the suburb does not have its own police station. They will also be able to carry out arrests. The initiative has been underway in some other suburbs already.
Maimane called for more integration and partnerships between the Metro Police and SA Police Service, countrywide, to ultimately stabilise communities that were under the control of gangsters.
"I think we cannot allow communities to be living under the government of gangs," he said, adding they had gone as far as allowing what entered and left a community, hampering service delivery.
The SU would also be a reaction team for gang-related shootings or incidents at schools and had access to eight CCTV cameras in Bonteheuwel so that footage can be used for leads after an incident.
Fritz said he was pleased that all the anti-crime measures, which includes the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), were beginning to show positive results in the decline of the number of people being murdered.
"We want zero murders though," he added.
Maimane congratulated the unit, and wished them success with its work in the community.
"We also want to welcome the deployment of the South African National Defence Force. It is a war against crime and we must continue to fight it."
In his State of the Province Address last week, Premier Alan Winde said the Western Cape government was considering court action against Police Minister Bheki Cele in its battle to get extra police officers for the province.
Meanwhile, the SANDF has been deployed to support the police in 10 precincts identified by Cele as crime and gang hot spots. They are Bishop Lavis, Mitchells Plain, Delft, Elsies River, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Mfuleni, Philippi, Kraaifontein and Manenberg.
The 1 320-deployee programme will cost around R23m.
Winde said provincial officials were also consulting the Constitution to see whether it was possible for the Western Cape legislature to take control of the police in the province
He added they were also instituting other measures within their mandate, including offering R5m for police reservists and CCTV equipment.
Gang wars: Winde lays out plans for when the army leaves
Last week, Parliament heard the National Treasury had asked the police to cut their budget by R6bn, according to national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole at the select committee on justice and security.
Sitole indicated he would take this up with the Treasury.
An anti-gang unit is also operating in Cape Town, as a specialised unit of the police, following its launch last year.
Maimane and the other officials were supposed to have gone on a walkabout to watch the SU in action, but after many twists and turns and a final stop in Bonteheuwel, they abruptly announced they were running late for an appointment and left.
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