While the media has mostly focused on the gang crisis in areas like Manenberg and Hanover Park, the community of Uitsig has its own battles on its hands in trying to stem the gang violence. During a safety outreach campaign in Uitsig on Tuesday, residents were vocal about their concerns and fears regarding of a worrying increase in gang activity that has taken the lives of innocent residents.
The campaign, led by the Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Dan Plato, accompanied by SAPS Western Cape Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula included door-to-door visits to the homes of residents who said “enough is enough”.
Speaking to VOC under anonymity, some residents attributed the current safety situation in the area to socio-economic conditions which include unemployment, poverty and a lack of support for high school pupils who drop out. An astounding number of young individuals were seen roaming the streets during school hours of the day as Plato, Jula, officials and residents walked through the area.
“We received numerous complaints over recent weeks regarding general safety in Uitsig. We have seen an increase in the reports of gang and drug related crime as well as shootings. With this information, we plan to put together a report and hand it over to the South African Police Commissioners officer for further investigation,” Plato said outside the Uitsig Civic Centre, where around 50concerned residents of the area listened attentively.
Chairperson of the Community Policing Forum in the area, Reginald Maart said three rival gangs are violently settling their differences in one particular area in the community, stifling any possible normalcy in the lives of those residing in the vicinity.
“Gun shootings happen almost on a daily here. Every night you can expect shooting or some sort of fighting occurring between rival gangs. People have become tired of constantly living in fear and hostility. We believe the presence of the commissioner and the MEC will have a long lasting effect on the morale of the community.
In conversation with VOC News, resident Delia Simons alleged that the Metro police have often been seen working with gangsters in the area.
In response, Maart said this was further placing distrust in public officials.
“These kinds of incidents are distancing residents who want to come forward to officials who feel more intervention isneeded from government and police,” Maart added.
With the information gathered during the campaign, Commissioner Jula says SAPS is hoping to minimise the space in which gangsters and drug lords operate in the area.
“Through visibility operations and a closer relationship between SAPS and the local community, we hope to isolate those who have criminal intentions in this area. The operations in the area will be ongoing and we hope to team up with the Department of Social Development as well,” Jula said.
The campaign, in its entirety, intends to establish closer relations with locals in a bid to ensure sustainable safer areas.
VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)