While a police effort to address the gang problem continues, chairperson of the Grassy Park Community Police Forum (CPF), Phillip Bam says a fresh strategy needs to be put in place for more effective results. Gang violence has once again taken the life of an innocent resident, this time a 10 year old boy in Parkwood this week.
From November to December 2015, around 13 innocent residents were caught in gang crossfires with fatal results.
“Parkwood, Lotus River and Ottery, which forms part of the CPF precinct, must be declared a state of emergency due to worsening conditions. We have embarked on numerous campaigns since last year to clamp down on illegal firearms in the area, while we have made some advances in our operations, the amount of guns on the streets still increases,” Bam explained.
The CPF says it remains cautious of the divide within the community. Bam says there is a middle split between residents who want to speak out against gangsterism and others who defend the illegal activities out of fear and intimidation.
“Many residents are aware of the locations where the illegal guns are being hidden. Through one of our operations we managed to identify a house in Grassy Park where stolen cars were being stripped within two hours. Clearly the neighbours were aware of these activities yet nothing was ever reported. We really need more support from people on the ground.
“Once we raided this particular house, we confiscated illegal firearms as well. Gangsters have become so brave they open fire at police and when the police respond, some community members defend those suspects,” Bam added.
Furthermore, the CPF will be launching a campaign, #GangsterismMustFall to educate the youth about the dangers of belonging to gangs. Additional pamphlets will be distributed to local schools in an attempt to highlight the impact of gangsterism on the community.
“We want to tell parents and the community to be on high alert regarding gang violence. We are currently doing research to hand out pamphlets to schools in the area with meaningful education on how to beat gangsterism. We need our kids to understand that these gangsters are not good role models.
This campaign begins within the homes of those residents surrounded by this scourge. We need to end the cycle,” Bam continued. VOC