By Rukaya Mosavel
“Our children’s lives matter” and “The Cape Flats is a low-key war zone” were some of the emotive words written across placards held by community crime fighters today – an expression of the sheer frustration with the level of gang violence. Community Police Forums and Neighbourhood Watch groups gathered outside Parliament on Thursday to demand that the national and provincial movement take action against the rampant crime and increased gang-related murders.
Following a stalemate in discussions with Police Minister Bheki Cele this week, CPF members said they are “tired of more talk shops”. A memorandum was handed over to parliament today.
An impassioned Lucinda Evans, Mitchell’s Plain CPF cluster chairperson, spoke to the crowd on the importance of unity amongst the crime-fighting fraternity.
“We represent every child of this Western Cape and very family. This is not political. Our mandate is the blood that is flowing in the community. Enough is enough! As much as we keep national government responsible, we have to keep the provincial government equally responsible,” said Evans.
Acting chairperson of the Western Cape CPF board Fransina Lukas chanted “Ons vat ons straate terug” (We are taking our streets back).
“Initially we had three main demands. We said if those demands are not met, we are not going to the summit as it will again be a talk-shop,” Lukas said.
According to many CPF members VOC News spoke to, the gang crisis is already understood as there have dozens of Imbizo’s across the province since last year. They believe “the time for talking is over”.
The Western Cape CPF Board demanding a declaration of a state of emergency in crime hotspots and for the army to be deployed to give support to the police.
“The minister convinced us that this is not going to be just another summit. We trust, we believe and hope that he is not going to disappoint us,” said Lukas.
The summit will announce the measures that will be taken to stabilize communities affected by the upsurge of violence.
“Let’s put these demands on the table in this summit. Let’s attach time frames. We want the seven ministers who will attend this summit to come back and report to the community of the Western Cape. This summit is for the Western Cape. We must claim what is ours,” Lukas added.
Lukas also said that service delivery was a demand but was not delivered due to the disunity in the South African Police Services.
“They are defocused on what to do to fight crime in our communities. We said that must stop. That is negatively impacting on our communities. We need more manpower,” she said.
“We are community volunteers. We are not reimbursed or paid. We are doing what we are doing in the interest of our community because we love our community,” she added.
The crime summit is expected to take place from 12 to 14 July in Paarl.