After a spike in gang violence in the area, residents from Beacon Valley took it upon themselves to host a meeting at the Shekinah Full Gospel Church in Beacon Valley on Thursday night to create awareness of the current crisis in the area and what the best possible way forward would be. A group of 40 residents were present at the meeting along with members from the Mitchell’s Plain community Policing Forum, SAPS as well as six representatives from six different school organisations.
Residents are up in arms after yet another child was killed on Thursday due to gang rivals seeking revenge. Earlier this week a Mitchell’s Plain resident was shot dead while he and his girlfriend waited for medical attention at the Eastridge Clinic. A gunman entered the facility, passing by security guards, before opening fire on the 23-year-old. The clinic was then closed, and patients directed to other facilities nearby.
Before anything was discussed, a chairperson for the Sub Forum was elected to steer Beacon Valley in terms of Crime prevention. Newly appointed Chairperson for the Sub Forum Adam Van Wyk says residents should be patient and give him the opportunity to find the best possible way to address the issue at hand.
“We can’t expect change too happen immediately now that I am elected, I can’t perform miracles. What I can guarantee is that Beacon Valley will see a change. We will alleviate crime in this area and make it a safe space for our children,” says Van Wyk.
Members of the public came up with a proposal to hold a unified march in Mitchell’s Plain in the problematic areas to bring a stop to the on-going violence. Mitchells Plain Community Police Forum Chairperson, Abie Isaacs says instead of having a march to the police station, it would be more appropriate to march in the area that is most affected by gang violence.
“Marching to a police station will benefit no one because the problem is not at the police station. The problem is with people in our areas that think it is okay to open fire on each other and kill innocent children,” Isaac stressed.
The general idea is to have about 50 000 people in the area sign a petition that would be handed over to the presidency or the Premier of the Western Cape.
Addressing the crowd, Captain Katzen from the Mitchell’s Plain police station said that without assistance from community members, there is very little the police can do to help fight crime.
“We know you are scared and feel like you are placing your life in danger when you come forward with information, but all calls are anonymous and we will do everything in our power to protect your identity,” he added.
Many residents feared that corruption is rife in the area. Isaacs said the reality is that there are corrupt officials; however there are police officers who are genuinely trying to fight crime.
“Within any institution there is a possibility that there would be corruption; however you get officials that follow protocol. Let’s not label all police officers the same and prevent the good ones from bringing about change,” Isaacs said.
Community members seemed relieved that all relevant issues were discussed and that all necessary measures has been put in place going forward.
William Hartzenberg, a resident from Beacon Valley said he was taken aback with the things that were said at the meeting as he was under the impression that Beacon Valley and Mitchell’s Plain seems to be an area where police members don’t really care about.
“I was surprised when I heard the plans that were put in place to help us. I was shocked to the core when the police officer said that they go where the gangsters are located and confront them, making the gangsters aware they police know what they are up to,” said Hartzenberg.
He believes residents should unite behind one common goal and that is to ensure that their children are safe to walk to and from school, to play freely in the streets without being subjected to the dangers of gang violence. VOC