(Bloomberg) -- South African army units will be used to support the police in a planned crackdown on gang- related violence in Cape Town from Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele told reporters in Cape Town.

”The Western Cape has seen more than 2,500 murders over the past year, with 900 gang-related murders since January,” Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said by phone. ”While I welcome the move and we, as the provincial government, have been calling on national government to send in the army to support the police, it has actually been the people who live in the affected areas who have been the ones crying for the intervention out of desperation.”

The national government has been reluctant to use the army to help the police in high crime areas, because it reminded people of the apartheid regime’s tactics of repression. Cele rejected the call to use the army just four days ago when addressing members of the community after the murders of 13 people last weekend.

However, Cele and Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula managed to obtain President Cyril Ramaphosa’s permission to allow army units to support the police this coming weekend. ”We approached the President, and the President approved,” Cele said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Vecchiatto in Cape Town at pvecchiatto@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alastair Reed at areed12@bloomberg.net, Jacqueline Mackenzie, Amogelang Mbatha

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