Residents of Bonteheuwel convened for an urgent meeting on Thursday evening, in a bid to address the ongoing spate of gang related violence in the area. Many residents have been left fearing for their lives, as the area continues to be plagued by an increasing number of gang shootings.
The meeting follows several attempts to engage with local policing authorities, in a bid to address the situation. In early August, the Bontenheuwel Joint Peace Forum (BJPF) wrote an open letter to several top government officials, with the hopes that their intervention could bring about a remedy to the high rate of crime.
The BJPF have also written an open letter addressed to Police Commissioner, Arno Lamoer, highlighting their grievances and giving him until the end of Thursday to respond to their concerns.
BJPF representative, Soraya Salie, said the letter highlighted the need for extra police resources in the area, stressing that residents were fed up with the continuous shootings taking place. Despite having a somewhat positive relationship with the South African Police Services (SAPS), she noted there was only two vans actually patrolling the area.
“Bonteheuwel is big, and that two vans cover up to Valhalla Park. It is really in their control to supply more resources, so we need to go out and seek their bosses for that extra help,” she said.
She said their pleas were falling on deaf ears, and despite having written to the police commissioner, the efforts thus far were to no avail. She expressed outrage that they had failed to receive in some form of response to recognize that they were aware of the letter.
“It is such an insult to the people of Bonteheuwel. People here are dying,” she said.
Reporting back from the meeting, she commended the residents for coming out to attend within the short space of notice that was given. She said the mood of the residents was somewhat somber, with many upset at the lack of concern shown towards their plight.
She suggested that residents would be looking to take some form of action within the next week. She failed to elaborate on what form that action would take, but noted that the meeting had brought up suggestions including writing letters, or marching to parliament.
“For the BJPF, we don’t want to go the way of violence, because we don’t promote violence. But there are other forms of actions that we can take to make them listen to us,” she suggested. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)