Residents in Hanover Park have experienced a sense of calm in the area since Ramadan, thanks to an agreement between community members and gang leaders. The Hanover Park Society (HPS), Ceasefire Project and other community activists came together a few weeks before Ramadan and met with gangsters at Grand West to negotiate a peace accord.
Maulana Tahaa Rodgrigues from Masjidul Ieglaas in Hanover Park, who forms part of a coalition of imams involved in fighting gang violence, said all gangs “were at war” before the month of Ramadan.
The agreement comes despite another shooting in the area in Monday, in which a 15 year old boy was killed. Police are investigating the murder, which Rodrigues believes was a personal attack.
“There has been peace amongst all gangs so far. There have been isolated incidents but not between rival gangs. Alhamdullilah, up until now, they have kept their end of the bargain by not shooting one another,” he said.
In the past, Muslim residents were afraid to attend Taraweeh prayers, due to persistent gang crossfire. This Ramadan, at every mosque in Hanover Park, there are security guards appointed by the masjid to patrol the mosque’s perimeter and the area. SAPS and law enforcement officials are more visible in the area.
With the June school holidays looming, Rodrigues said HPS has organised sports programmes for youngsters of the area. The masjid also hopes to intensify religious programmes for Muslim youth.
However, the coalition of imams and CPF hope to meet with police again to increase visibility.
“With police visibility, we can see the crime does drop,” he added.
Meanwhile, Rodrigues said the community was encouraged by the new safety kiosks initiated by the Department of Community Safety. The Safety Kiosk will be utilized for crime prevention by increasing visibility in hotspot areas and through daily operations and blitzes in partnership with the City of Cape Town’s Law Enforcement. The kiosks will enable communities to play an active role in identifying and resolving safety concerns that exist within their neighbourhoods.
“It can only work if the community gives their support to the unit situated at the terminus. Plato also promised if that unit work and curbs violence and robberies, he will increase these kiosks. So I hope that the community will make use of it.” VOC