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Gang tensions growing across Flats

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Tensions among different gang groupings are spreading to more communities on the Cape Flats, with areas such as Bishop Lavis and Blikkiesdorp warning of increased gang violence. The gang violence, which occurred on separate occasions in the different areas, has caused death and lead to injuries.

The search for an absolute solution to cease the senseless violence in Bishop Lavis comes after the fatal shooting of a 25-year-old man. Residents plan to mobilise in the area on Sunday 28th August to stage a march to the local police station with a memorandum for their DA ward councillor. Residents hope the march would in turn then lead to the police intervening gang-violence with immediacy and that the poor service of its police station would be exposed.

“We are taking this march through our area to our local police station” said Leigh-Aphton Fritz, who is a resident and a community representative of Bishop Lavis

“The march is a way for us as citizens of Bishop Lavis West to get together for a peace march because of all our young men are dying before their time.”

Fritz then explained the message the community members wish to convey to the police once they have marched.

“We want them to do more raids from the Kalksteinfontein area because that’s where the violence is coming from,” said Fritz.

“We would like them to be visible in our area because as the shootings are taking place there is no police visibility, and that is disappointing from our side.”

Fritz went on to criticize the police’s response time to crime by saying that the police take 3 to 4 hours to address an issue. She said the violence has resulted in children and the elderly of the community to stay indoors because of the fear that a gang-war may take place at any time.

Another area that is plagued by gang-violence is Blikkiesdorp. The attention on gang-violence in the area comes after a waging gang-war that began when a gang leader was shot and killed on the 21st of August.

“It’s like its Guy Fawkes day,” said the Blikkiesdorp Joint Committee’s Etienne Claasen, in describing the shootings.

“The community at the moment is upset; some of these people are starting to rent houses outside the camp because they fear their lives are in danger.”

“Children do not go to school now because of this violence that is happening. If you are from Blikkiesdorp they will hit you or they will stab you.”

Classen said the issue has been taken up with police, but very little action has been seen.

“There is no police visibility here in this camp; I think the police even themselves are afraid of this place.”

Claasen stated that meetings with the Mayor and Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith about gangster-activity have been arranged in the past but none of them took place. Claasen then added that the ward councillor of the area was last seen on the Election Day and that he never came in since then.

Dan Plato, the Provincial Minister of Community Safety, spoke to VOC’s Breakfast Beat regarding the areas that are currently dealing with gang-related affairs.

“We assist all the violent-stricken areas as far as we can on a day-to-day basis” said Plato. “We are working closely with all our partners, specifically the police, and then our neighbourhood watches and our community policing forums.”

“Through my police priority meetings we structure and formulate what we call a ‘community-based’ safety plan that is underwritten by the City of Cape Town and all other municipalities across the Western Cape Province as well,” Plato explained further.

Plato added that when there are pressing issues and a call for councillors and mayors to play a specific role, the appropriate facilitation is provided, particularly if it involves safety matters.

“From the City’s side, we are working closely with the councillor JP Smith as well and our Metro Police, so there is no problem with regard to engagement of facilitating any meeting, and we have done so in Bishop Lavis, in Bonteheuwel and in Manenberg,” said Plato.

Plato states that the problem is not the police’s fear of gangsters and gang wars, but rather that the police have a lack of resources at their disposal.

“Ten days ago over 1000 new police recruits have been passed out, some of the new recruits have been allocated to police stations in the violent-stricken areas, at some stations there are 20 to 25 police officers that have been allocated ,” said Plato.

Plato then added that he himself pays a great deal of attention to the matter of councillors not attending high profiled meetings in their respective communities.

“Councillors get evaluated; where they need to tell their leadership at the City what they have done for the ward and how they engaged with the community,” said Plato.

“The attendance of councillors is a must, if they do not attend; I want to know about that so that we can put the necessary pressure on councillors.”

If there is a specific complaint related to safety, if community members do not receive the necessary from police and if there is a need for community members to get hold of councillors to attend meetings, then contact can be directly made to him on 021 483 3907 and on VOC (Imran Salie)

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