Emotions ran high at an anti-crime imbizo in Hanover Park on Friday as community members lashed out at the police’s perceived failure to curb gang violence on the Cape Flats. More than 1000 people from various communities have packed Mountview high school to engage with Deputy Police Minister, Bongani Mkongi, Lt. General Khombinkosi Jula and other SAPS officials.
It follows numerous calls and emails to the Ministry of Police to listen to the cries of community members, who are living under siege. Also present were members of civil society, NGOs, CPFs and religious leaders, including the MJC.
At the imbizo, many residents called on the minister to deploy the army, saying the police are severely under-resourced and ill-equipped to deal with the severity of gang violence. Various areas on the Cape Flats have seen a surge in gang violence in recent months, with running gang battles being played out on the streets. Residents say even police fear going into gang territory, as gangsters are brazen and will shoot at police.
However, one police officials told the audience that community members have to be pro-active in fighting crime.
“It is important that community members take their power back. Don’t speak about your complaints. Speak about the reality of living in these communities and come up with critical solutions,” he urged.
He urged the police unions to protect the interests of police officials, as disgruntled police cannot focus on protecting civilians.
More than 1000 residents from various communities packed Mountview high school this afternoon for an anti crime imbizo, focused on gang violence and drug related crime.
Posted by Voice of the Cape Radio – VOC on Friday, 8 September 2017
Chris Nissen, a commissioner at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) upset some community members when he said residents must restore their trust in the police.
“We can continue to blame each other and complain that the police are corrupt. On Sunday, when the boy in Parkwood Estate was killed, the community destroyed the police vans. When the paramedics want to get into communities, the communities are first people to stop them.”
But he urged parents to use tough love on their errant children.
‘We as the community, we need to say ‘Mama, you know your child’. Talk to your child and take them to the police to report them. Use tough love. No longer should we hide the guilt of our children. When you hide it, another person will be killed,” he said to loud applause and cheers from the audience.
MJC deputy president Maulana Abdul Khaliq Allie cautioned against vigilantism as a response to gang violence.
The imbizo comes after the deputy minister announced a new approach to gang violence this week. The police ministry will implement a four pillar approach of the National Anti-gangsterism strategy approved by Cabinet in February 2017. The four pillars are: Human Development, Social Partnership, Spatial Design and the Criminal Justice Process.
Deputy Minister Mkongi said they aimed to make the life of gangsters unbearable, so that they would “find it difficult to even breathe”. VOC