Residents in Strandfontein packed a public meeting this weekend in a bid to address the recent consecutive murders of young people, gang activity and drug houses in the area. The meeting was called by the Strandfontein Social and Economic Development Forum with the community and governmental role players.
The Forum’s Secretary, Mandy Van Willingh says that from the meeting, it has been decided that a special task team from different spheres in local safety organisations and policing departments will be formed to address these concerns.
The Strandfontein community has been ravaged by an increase in drug dens and gang activity that has resulted in the murders of four young boys in the past two months. Van Willingh had previously attributed this spike to the ‘Cease Fire’ operation reportedly being rolled out at the Camp Road Rehabilitation Centre in Strandfontein.
The programme provides rehabilitation to hardened gang criminals from notorious gang stricken areas such as Hanover Park and Manenberg. The project brings these individuals to the area, which Willingh believes contributes to the sporadic increase in crime.
“We know that the project Cease Fire is not the only factor contributing to crime in our area but in fact our youth from Strandfontein as well. However, we have also seen that this project brings gangsters to the community and other gang members follow them as well. We have drug houses here and all sorts of problems and during the meeting we have agreed that we need to address the issues here in Strandfontein holistically,” Van Willingh further explained.
The Camp Road Rehabilitation is one of many unregistered centres operating on that road. Van Willingh says that during the meeting, a general concern for the legitimacy of these centres was brought forward.
After a walk-about in the area, the forum also found that there are little to no facilities for the youth which provides recreational and developmental activities.
“There is no multi-purpose facility for the youth here. There isn’t much you can do. What came out of the meeting was that we establish this special task team to further assist local policing forums and crime fighting organisations on a voluntary basis in an attempt to better equip ourselves with the man power needed to eradicate the area of any elements operating in drug and gang activity and furthermore get government to invest in developing this area,” Van Willingh added.
While Van Willingh expressed disappointment in the lack of attendance from role players and the Ward Councillor, she told VOC that this special task team will provide regular report backs to the community to establish a relationship of trust and understanding with residents as they collectively work towards targeting crime related activities in the area. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)