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Portfolio Committee meets SAPS Manenberg on Gang Surge

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Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Policing met with the various National and Provincial SAPS structures at the Manenberg Police Station on Friday. The aim of the meeting was to discuss police’s intervention plan to combat the scourge of gangsterism in the area.

Since the start of the month, 17 people were killed, suspected to be gang members and 70 people involved in alleged gang activity were arrested. During the meeting, members of the committee raised concerns around issues relating to police’s capacity in effectively addressing the gang problems in the area.

Committee members raised questions on whether WC SAPS is working with other departments to combat the gang problem. According to National Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Elvis Jula, SAPS has monthly meetings with other departments to discuss common issues. Those issues are then prioritised and the “interventions are integrated”.

Meanwhile, Major-General Jeremy Veary was asked about the slow conviction rate of gang members. And simply brushed off the idea that a conviction rate can easily be measured today but states that many successors, including the Geweld case, clearly highlights the complexities around conviction of gangsters or criminals of organised of crime.

Manenberg SAPS Acting Station Commander, Colonel Henry Hugo further responded to questions around school safety in the area. According to Hugo, pamphlets are handed out at local schools to educate learners of the dangers around gangsterism.

Chairperson of the Community Policing Forum, Abdul Kader Jacobs stood before the committee during the meeting and explained that while the community organisation shares a solid working relationship with local police, more needs to be done to address the social issues in the community which, from his observation on the ground, further strengthens the hold of gangs on the rest of the community.

“We need a joint departmental approach in the community. the relationship between police and the community remains tense. Gangsters are often the providers in many poor households in the area and often help out others in the community. That is why you see so many community members protecting gangsters from police. The unemployment rate in Manenberg is at about 40% right now and most of those unemployed are school drop outs. We need more than just intervention from police,” Jacobs told the committee.

Furthermore, Jacobs claims that residents in the area have lost hope in police as they believe a lack of police resources remains the reason behind the high number of deaths related to gang violence in the area.

Committee Chairperson, Francois Beukman says they plan to take the answers in the discussion to Parliament in a bit to further discuss how legislation can be amended to better the situation.

VOC (Raeesah Isaacs)

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