With the sacred month of Ramadan in full swing this week, some Muslims living in the Cape Flats suburb of Manenberg have been unable to attend taraweeh prayers at night for fear of being affected by gang violence flaring up in the area. Safe Manenberg Campaign’s spokesperson Waheed Sookool says residents’ lives have become stifled as gangsters wage war on one another and police move in to quell the violence.
Sookool says a peace treaty or truce between gangs is inevitable, as has been recorded over the years, but normal residents end up suffering.
“People who are not at all involved, and that is the majority of the neighbourhood, these people can’t go out at night. The masjid on Stormsriver Road has been suffering because people do not feel safe walking there. While they were performing taraweeh the other night some shots were fired really close by. Someone that was in the masjid [with us] thought they had been firing on the building,” Sookool told VOC’s In The Fast Lane.
At a recent conference on torture at Manenberg’s Trauma Centre, Sookool says many residents said they felt like torture victims in their own neighbourhood. Although the South African Police Service’s purpose in the area is to patrol and keep gang violence at a minimum, residents feel as if their area is being overrun.
“I am quite happy to go outside and not see people driving up and down my road heavily armed, stopping people; people want to be left on their own to run their own lives, and as much as people do welcome the police, you can’t walk into the road without encountering a police vehicle. The situation is very tense at the moment and people can’t live under those circumstances. VOC (Andriques Che Petersen)