From the news desk

Bonteheuwel residents, fed-up with inaction

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The recent spate of gang violence in Bonteheuwel has sparked concern amongst residents. The residents, who have been caught in the middle of a gang war, have at least two gang related killings this week alone. Community members from across the gang-ridden Cape Flats area are now calling on the City of Cape Town and SAPS to assist them in restoring peace.

This week a 46 year-old train conductor was killed at Netreg Station and an alleged gang member was shot and killed in full view of his son and his fellow taxi commuters.
Chairperson of the Bishop Lavis Community Policing Forum (CPF) precinct overseeing Bonteheuwel Graham Lindhorst explains that while reports of gang related deaths have been rife this week, incidents of this nature have been prevalent throughout Bonteheuwel since 2015.

He says that the CPF has been in discussion with City authorities, but that they have not delivered on their promises to assist in alleviating the situation.

“This has culminated in what we have seen this weekend; people have just been gunned down for the entire weakened.”

In light of the murder of the gang member who was gunned down in a crowded taxi, Lindhorst says that the situation has deteriorated to a point where gang members act brazenly.

While the CPF has requested an increase in policing manpower and vehicles, He says that the City has to date not employed mechanisms to assist residents in combatting gang related activity.

“I haven’t heard one day where the premier or mayor came to Bonteheuwel and assisted those affected. They assist today, and then move them [police] out, then return when the situation escalates. We should try the authorities for murder, because people are being killed daily,” Abrahams asserts.

Lindhorst says that while there is a large contingent of metro police stationed in the area, the officers say that they are unable to assist when violence erupts as they are not appointed to the Bonteheuwel metro.
He further notes that he does not believe the use of the army to be a necessity in the area, since the deployment of an adequate number of police officers throughout the City will decrease gang activity.

“What they are doing is putting a lid on one area, then a spill-over of gang activity occurs when violence erupts in other areas.”

Vice chairperson for the Joint Peace Forum, Grant Abrahams echoes Lindhost’s sentiment that the City’s Authorities can be held responsible for gang related deaths, since resident’s pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
As the local municipal elections is soon to begin, Abrahams notes that the inaction of ward councillors needs to be addressed.

“What about our ward councillors, they are supposed to be in the communities. Are they not supposed to feel the same distress as we are and hear the same gunshots as we are?”

Abrahams urged all law enforcement stake holders to uphold their mandate and assist in mitigating the situation in gang-ridden areas. He, however, notes that the core socio-economic issues, which give rise to gang related activities within the Cape Flats, needs to be remedied.

While community members battle on-going gang violence on the Cape Flats, recent attacks on Emergency Medical Service’s (EMS) have forced EMS staff to operate in fear.

Provincial spokesperson in Western Cape, Robert Daniels explains that on Sunday morning at approximately 2:30am two emergency vehicles were stoned, leaving emergency personal traumatised.

He says that given the attacks against EMS vehicles and staff, the EMS has coordinated with the South African Police Service that facilitates the escorted entry of EMS vehicles into gang-ridden areas.

This, however, greatly impacts the response time of EMS, which poses serious problems in life and death situations.

“We urge them to wait, since we don’t want to risk the lives of our staff when they are enroute to save lives.”

While stoning incidents are not uncommon, Daniels notes that stoning activity flares up when protest action erupt.

“An attack on an EMS vehicle and staff is an attack on your own community, because your community would then require the assistance of an EMS from another district. So, everyone loses at the day,” Daniels continued. VOC (Thakira Desai)

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