Recent gang activity in Leonsdale has sparked much debate among community members about the role of the police force in alleviating the problem.
Leonsdale is one of six gang ridden hot-spots within Elsies River.
Speaking to VOC, Steve Ross, Public Relations Officer at the Elsies River Community Police Forum (CPF) confirmed that the Elsies River CPF is aware of the gang violence within the area.
In an attempt to deter gang violence, the CPF is conducting standard patrols.
“We are getting extra forces in from Bishop Lavis and Langa to support the local police,” Ross confirmed.
The CPF encourages community members to get to know their areas and to familiarise themselves with the location of the taverns and the gang ridden ‘hot-spots’. He, furthermore, encouraged community members to take personal safety considerations.
“We have witnessed many kids walking to school with earphones in their ears and ladies walking alone to the station,” stated Ross.
Ross encouraged the neighbourhood watch forums of areas to uplift their communities, to raise awareness within their communities, and to celebrate outstanding citizens.
He discouraged community members from placing themselves in danger by taking the law into their own hands.
Gang violence, Ross asserts, is not a symptom of poverty. Rather, he believes, that “the community themselves have sent out an invitation to criminals.”
“People are dumping [their waste], people do not clean around their space, and that sends out messages to criminals that ‘nobody cares here’,” Ross stated.
Ross, furthermore, stated that the graffiti and filth within the community sends out a message “that crime is ok here.”
The CPF has initiated community forums in which community members are provided a platform to voice their concerns. In conjunction with the forum, CPF has appointed community forum members to communicate the intended actions of the police forum with the community.
Ross indicated that a range of youth programmes needs to be introduced into the community in order to stimulate the minds of the youth.
Within Elsies River there are currently 57 legal taverns. These establishments Ross asserted are more active within the gang ridden areas. He concluded by expressing concern that a link may exist between the presence of taverns and the increased gang activity.
VOC (Thakira Desai)