From the news desk

Communities must rise up: Pagad

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The People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) says it has no sympathy for gang leaders who die by the gun. Pagad was commenting on the murder of former Hard Living gang leader Rashied Staggie, who was shot in London Road in Salt River this morning. Staggie died on arrival at hospital. Pagad national spokesperson Harron Orrie said they “welcome the overthrow of any gang and drug dealer”.

“We want to say that people should not fear what has happened. The time has come for drug dealers to stop. It is time for the communities to rise up above this and people should no longer live in fear in our community,” he told VOC News.

“We want to give the people the assurance that it’s not a time of fear and worry of any gang or turf wars. It is time that people will rise up and our communities will be as it was – safe for our kids to be in and it will be a place where we can live in peace and harmony with one another once again. The time has come for people to rise up and take back our streets,” he added.

The movement gained notoriety in 1996 after some of its members lynched Staggie’s twin brother Rashaad Staggie in London road.

Cape Town has been rocked by gang violence over the past few months, although the intervention of the SANDF in certain hotspots has brough about some stabilisation. However, innocent children remain the first casualties when gang warfare erupts.

On Sunday, 10-year-old Ayesha Kelly was caught in the crossfire in Tafelsig in Mitchell’s Plain while going to a nearby shop.

Her mother, Inshaaf Kelly, was informed of her daughter’s death by community members. She said the justice system failed her family and failed Ayesha.

Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the family on Wednesday to offer his condolences, stating that “police are making inroads in the fight against gangsterism”.

Two men were arrested shortly after the shooting and appeared in court the next day. Their case has been postponed.

Orrie, however, said that the movement had offered a solution in the past but was rejected.

“It’s always a sad topic to talk about when innocent children are being killed. Those are issues that are unfortunate and we say that we share the pain with the family and those who lost their loved ones in the crossfire. But also we must understand that people in this community had, in the last 25 years, had the opportunity to end the drug and gangsterism that we saw back then (already) being pumped and pushed into our communities.”

“If people had taken the streets then as they did before and did not fear the drug dealers, the situation could have been in reverse. But unfortunately, we live in a situation where this is going to happen and we pray to the Almighty that they must protect the innocent children and people.”

Orrie said gangsters and drug dealers will continue to penetrate communities and target societies that fail to be God-conscious and he urged parents to keep a firm grasp on their children and their habits.

“We say to our parents and we say to communities you need to take control of your children’s life.  We are responsible for our children. They cannot make decisions on their own and be aware of their surroundings. Be the real difference and be aware when they come home with fancy things. Question them. ”

“Parents need to understand that money doesn’t come easy.  Today, we as adults realize that the moment money comes easy and our kids are living a lavish life, we must question them. We must investigate. Surely parents need to also be part of rehabilitating our communities and our society. But we obviously we first start with our own kids and people need to look into these things and if people want advice they are welcome to contact us.”

PAGAD is of the view that those who stand with the gangsters are equally at fault of a deteriorating social fabric.

“We say to the community, the corrupt policemen, the politicians, the corrupt magistrate’s court judges, the prosecutors and the attorneys and lawyers that support drug dealers and gangsters in this country – their time has come. Unfortunately, (that) would probably be your fate if you’re not going to stop your support and friendship with drug dealers in this country. We urge our communities not to take money, not to take anything, from drug dealers and gangsters.”

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