As gang violence continues to cripple the area, Hanover Park residents believe inefficiency of the Phillipi police station is compounding the problem. Earlier this month, concerned residents marched to the police station to hand over a list of grievances regarding what they describe as a lack of service delivery from the station. Crime levels and gangsterism has flared up recent months.
The Hanover Park Community Policing Forum chairperson Ebrahim Abrahams told VOC News residents are now rising against gangsterism on their own.
“Residents are concerned about the responding time from police after incidents are reported. It is not acceptable and at the police station, the charge office is not always capable to respond to the community’s needs. There is a problem of communication between police and the community. This has been going on for years. There might be 150 staff members at the police station but not everyone is pulling their weight,” Abrahams explained.
In addition to this, Abrahams said the CPF and residents are aware of corrupt officials working at the station who act as informants to the local gangsters. Abrahams says the corruption contributes to the fears of residents who want to come forward and assist police in clamping down on the drug dens and gang activity plaguing their neighbourhood.
“There are some weak, corrupt police men working with gangs. It is those corrupt officials who make all the police look bad,” Abrahams added.
Abrahams believes police have made numerous efforts to address the problems within the community but furthermore called on residents to report corrupt activity of police in their area so those officials can be brought to book.
The CPF has now embarked on a partnership with local police to seek out gang elements operating in the area. Other community based organisations such as the Coalition of Imaams have also joined in assisting police.
After visiting the area, VOC News learned that the flare up in gang shootings affected school pupils from the area and furthermore put the residents on lock down in their homes for fear of being caught in random crossfires.
“Residents have become tired of fearing for their lives and the lives of our children. We will no longer allow these gangsters to intimidate us. We are physically working in the community to find gangster unwilling to co-operate in a peace agreement and personally taking them to the local police station,” Abrahams continued.
Thus far, most of the gangsters operating in the area have agreed to refrain from gun shootings and fights with rival gangs however, Abrahams said the notorious ‘Mongrels’ have yet to get on board.
“The community has reached an understanding with some of these gangs so that there won’t be any shootings. For the last week, it has only been the Mongrels shooting amongst each other. The other gangs have given their assistance to make this peace agreement work,” Abrahams said.
In conclusion, Abrahams said the efforts for peace in the community stem from a collective concern from local community organisations and not just one group. Abrahams has called on the broader community to no longer feel threatened by gangsters but to stand up against violence, corruption and gangsterism to ensure a peaceful and festive holiday season for all.
SAPS was unavailable for comment. (Ra’eesah Isaacs)