From the news desk

Eastridge residents on knife-edge

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Residents of Eastridge in Mitchells Plain have reported a surge in gang violence and drug abuse in the area of late. Some community members say they fear walking in the street and even having to go to the shop to buy bread has become dangerous. Police have recently said three streets within Eastridge are considered red block zones due to an increase in gang turf wars.

On the streets of the gang infested area, children and teenagers sit watching passers-by as their days wither into nothingness. During a visit to the community on Thursday, parents told VOC News their children are out of school due to the school closures in Mitchells Plain and increase in gang violence.

“My child is sitting at home whole day. He was meant to begin high school this year and I’m scared he will also be pulled into this life of gangsterism,” said one mother, who asked to remain anonymous in fear she might be threatened by gangsters.

Ismail Galant blamed the increase in gang violence on the easy access to drugs which he claims is targeted at the youth.

“All these youngsters are out of school. They have nothing else to do with their time so instead they experiment with drugs, become addicted and join gangs to sustain their habit. We see it happening here everyday. These kids walk around with guns and aren’t afraid to use it,” Galant said.

The recent death of a 28 year old woman who got caught in a gang shooting sparked concern from residents who are appealing to the police to address the crime levels.

“Police need to patrol here more often. They can’t just be here for a certain time of the day and then leave. There needs to be 24 hour patrolling here at least for a few months,” urged Faatimah Adonis.

“We are afraid to even walk outside. Just last week I went to the shop and stopped to speak to my neighbour when suddenly we heard gunshots and people screaming. I had to run inside my neighbours house for safety that evening. Everyone here has to live in fear…this is no way to live.”

On Wednesday, local Community Policing Forum chairperson, Abie Isaacs recommended that losing lanes between homes in Eastridge may be a solution to the ongoing crime in the area.

“We have indicated to the councilor in that ward that there is a strong sense from the community that the lanes need to be closed. As the [CPF] we will address that and fast track the process so that we can approach the City of Cape Town. Clearly those lanes have an effect on crime, so we are in the process of getting signatures, because those lanes aid crime taking place there,” Isaacs said

Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Albert Fritz will be in the area this week for the opening of the department’s new Drug Counselling Centre however, residents say the centre will bring about very little change as drug houses continue to target the young members of the community who are most affected by the socio-economic challenges. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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