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‘HPark clerics must tackle crime from the pulpit’

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Western Cape MEC for Community Safety Dan Plato has highlighted the role of religious leaders in combatting gangsterism from the pulpit. He was speaking to VOC after a meeting with members of the religious fraternity in Hanover Park over the weekend to discuss incessant gang violence.

Plato recently joined the ‘Hanover Park Ministers Fraternal’ in a safety outreach initiative , as daily gang shootings remains a serious concern for residents living on the Cape Flats. The meeting was also attended by Hanover Park police. One of the main issues raised was that the lack of police visibility added to the current crime problem.

“It’s sad our children are running around with guns. Youth are joining gangs and young people are leaders of these gangs. We need to address this,” says Plato.

The surge in gang related crime has created a need for more engagement with government, organisations and religious institutions to help foster safer communities. The department are using religious entities as a vehicle to urge to parents to ensure their children do not participate in any criminal activity.

“Our imams and pastors are asking parents to help their children. They can come to the mosque or church or police. We want them to know these channels are open to them,” says Plato.

A religious programme will be run by the department to address troubled youths. The department says that the partnership is part of usual operations to clamp down on crime in the area.

“One of the main aims is to increase police visibility and create a platform for the community to speak out against drug and gangsterism,” said Plato.

The department wants to seek support from the government to pin down dangerous areas with an increase of law enforcement monitoring the area.

Plato has called on National Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko to release the details on the budget amount allocated for specialised units.

President Jacob Zuma last month announced the establishment of two new crime-fighting units which would fall under the Hawks (Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation).

The Committee is pleased with the President’s announcement and believes the establishment of the two specialised units will go a long way in fighting organised crime. The new units will deal with narcotics and illegal firearms.

Plato said Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s announcement of a 5.8% increase (R4.8 billion) for police services did not include any amount allocated to the specialised units.

He said the new specialised drug and gun units will remain a “dream”, while the people of the Western Cape continues to be killed by gangsters.

The MJC leadership have urged imams in gang ridden communities to strive to enrich their community with spiritual guidance and religious instruction. The ulema body said it is in constant engagement with shuyookh on the Cape Flats in order to gain insight into the socio-economic challenging that plague their community, to give them support and encourage broader input and contribution towards healing the affected communities and families. VOC

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