As the festive season fast approaches, gang ridden communities on the Cape Flats worry about a possible upsurge in gang violence. During a visit to Hanover Park and Manenberg following recent gang shootings in the areas, residents told of the need for immediate police intervention to ensure the safety of all during the holiday season.
Since July this year, Manenberg has been fairly quiet with very little to no gang shooting incidents. During a visit to the area on Friday afternoon, children were seen playing outside, joyfully ushering in the weekend.
Manenberg’s very own gang peace negotiator and community activist, Ronald Snippers says a recent tiff between two notorious gangs in the area lead to intensified shootings that once again sparked fear in residents. Since a peace agreement was reached with gangsters in July, Snippers continued communication with gang leaders in a bid to understand and contain violent outbreaks between rival gangs. Snippers holds over twenty years of experience and understanding from engaging with local gangsters to try and rehabilitate and educate them. However, he fears the community could be facing a crisis as the “silly season” fast approaches.
“While I speak to the gang leaders on a daily basis to try and understand their way of thinking and operating, it is still challenging to contain gang violence. We see children from the tender age of nine years old pledging allegiance to these gangs and walking around with military weapons, that alone is a dangerous combination. More often than not, it is these young foot soldiers who are lose canons within the gang and now we [community] fear turf wars as the need to amp up on drug sales loom,” Snippers told VOC News.
Past incidents during the festive season indicate a rapid spike in road deaths, crime and gang violence. Snippers says the fight between rival gangs is often sparked from simple arguments in situations where drug and alcohol affects the attitudes of two people from opposite gangs. Very soon, the tiff becomes an endless battle of back and forth shooting.
“We really need investment into Manenberg. I have a relationship of respect and understanding with these gang leaders. We need government to invest in a centre where these gangsters can find solace and safety if they wish to leave the gangs. Currently, the numbers joining the gangs have increased and the age for recruitment has gone younger. I have found that these are good people who make bad decisions simply because they are also affected by poverty,” Snippers added.
In Hanover Park, residents are mobilising in a march to the Phillipi Police Station on Wednesday, where a memorandum of grievances regarding alleged police inefficiencies will be handed over. Residents say their daily activities are affected by gang violence in the area. Matriculants are unable to attend examinations as gang violence obstructs their path to the local schools. Nadeem Cooper, a concerned resident says something needs to be done to address the issue as gang violence, break-ins and drug abuse begin to plague the lives of innocent community members.
“They keep telling us that there is only one police van for the whole Hanover Park area. How can they fight the problem with the little resources they have. It takes hours for police to show up to incidents of crime,” said Cooper.
Cooper, accompanied by the support of the National People’s Party, has called on the broader Hanover Park community and other areas facing the same struggles, to stand up for change during the action to Phillipi Police station. Pupils from local schools, senior citizens who cannot collect their grant benefits and other residents forced to remain indoors due to continuous shootings will be adding their voices to the action.
“We about to enter a period where everyone is at home… more parties, drinking and drug abuse takes place during this time. Our children are not safe from these social ills. We have had enough,” Cooper stressed. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)