Army rolled out amid gang war

The army has arrived in Manenberg to help police with raids in the area.

Manenberg residents say they hope the army’s deployment to the neighbourhood will stop the violent crime and gangsterism which have long plagued the area.

But the army was too late to save Tasneem Simons, the pregnant 22-year-old woman who was shot in the head as she went to take down her washing on Monday July 15.

According to the police, Ms Simons was caught in the crossfire when Fancy Boys gangsters open fire on a rival gang member.

Ms Simons died at the scene.

Manenberg’s acting police station commander Colonel Sanele Zama said shootings had claimed the lives of 20 people in the neighbourhood since the start of the year.

Police arrested a 28-year-old man for Ms Simons’ murder. He is being held in Pollsmoor prison as the investigation into her death continues.

The day after Ms Simons died, three boys aged 11, 13 and 16 were hit by stray bullets in a shoot-out between the Fancy Boys and Americans gangsters, at 9pm on the corner of Irvine Street and Great Fish Avenue.

The boys had been walking to a shop. One was shot in the leg, one in the arm and one in the stomach.

The boys were taken to Heideveld day hospital. The one who had been shot in the stomach was transferred to Groote Schuur Hospital where he is in a critical condition. The two other boys have been discharged.

Six men were arrested shortly after the shooting and detained at Manenberg police station, according to Colonel Zama.

Feuding over turf between the Americans and Fancy Boys was to blame for recent shootings, he said.

Last Thursday, the army escorted the police on raids in Manenberg.

Manenberg Community Safety Police Forum chairperson Roegchanda Pascoe said the community was tired of the killings and while the army wasn’t a solution to the problem it was one way to stop the killings for now.

“One person dying in a family affects the rest of the family which spirals into the entire community so how much trauma do our people have? People have accepted the violence as normal and it is not normal,” she said.

“The gangsters are educated people who know what they are doing. These are not people who have not been educated or people who have not received schooling as it used to be. What protection is there for our people? Our witnesses are being killed.”

South African National Defence Force spokesman Brigadier General Maf Mgobozi said the army’s main task was to back up SAPS.

“We are not coming to take over. We are here to support the police,” he said.

Soldiers had undergone “mission readiness” training, specifically on the rules of engagement, he said.

“We will make sure we know our work and that the defence force knows its purpose, so when the area is cordoned off, the police do not have to look behind, and fear a threat,” he said.

Ms Pascoe said the Mom’s Move for Justice, Peace, and Reconciliation would march from the Castle of Good Hope to Parliament on Thursday August 1 to present a memorandum to authorities demanding an end to crime and gangsterism.