From the news desk

Gang violence can’t be normal: residents

Around 200 Hanover Park residents marched to the Phillip Police station on Wednesday to draw attention to the increasing levels of gang violence and police inefficiencies in addressing the problem. Under the banner of the ‘Concerned Residents of Hanover Park’, people from all ages marched in the blistering heat, calling for urgent intervention from government. Spearheading the campaign, resident Nadeem Cooper says the community has had enough of the effects of gang violence.

“During the evening you hear shooting right outside your home. You see young boys passing your home with a gun in their hands. This is not normal. Something needs to be done. People can’t live like this. One afternoon after jumuah salaah a gun fight broke out right outside the mosque premises while people were still inside and others were on their way home,” Cooper told VOC News.

Joining the march were residents from other areas on the cape flats who live under the same conditions. Mitchells Plain resident, Chevonne Petersen says her community is on the verge of epic proportions, much like the level of crime seen in Hanover Park.

“While it is not as bad in Mitchells Plain yet, this is what we can expect in the near future if our government doesn’t step in and address the issues. To walk to the shop just around the corner is a dangerous thing and people are too afraid so they live locked up in their homes. This is not a way to live,” Petersen added.

The groups handed over a memorandum to the Phillipi police station, calling on President Jacob Zuma to institute a commission on inquiry to investigate the crime organisations operating in Hanover and put an end to their operations.

“We request visible police patrolling and mobile police units to be placed at the terminus and day hospital,” a group of frustrated residents chanted.

In addition, the memorandum also requested a faster and more urgent response time from officers at the nearby Phillipi police station. Residents say they’ve recorded a two to three hour long wait before police officers arrive after receiving a distress call from the community.

Residents say they will be mobilising on a regular basis until a resolution is reached.  On Wednesday, the City of Cape Town was forced to close the Hanover Park Clinic until further notice, amid fears about staff safety following a flare-up in gang violence. On Thursday, staff working at the Hanover Park Clinic will relocate to the Newfields Village Satellite Clinic. Clients will be able to access some services at Newfields, while additional services are available at the Hanover Park Community Health Centre.

“I would like to apologise to affected clients and assure them that we are working hard to find a solution to resume operations as soon as possible in an environment that is conducive to both staff and client safety,” said Councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli, Mayoral Committee Member for Health.

“We have made counselling available to staff members who have been left traumatised by the situation and I will also engage with the City’s Safety and Security Directorate about the possibility of deploying additional resources to assist the South African Police Service in bringing stability to the area.” VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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