Athlone police station has won an award for being the “most improved” gang-neighbourhood precinct, in the province, recording a 36% drop in murders and a 21% drop in attempted murders for the past year.
Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula presented the award to Athlone’s station commander, Colonel Mark Adonis, during a ceremony at the Century City Conference Centre on Saturday October 27.
Colonel Adonis said the station had recorded the 36% drop in the murder rate from October 2017 to October this year.
He said he could not give the exact numerical change in the murders, only the percentage by which they had shifted, as the data was not part of the official police statistics released in September.
Those statistics showed the station had 14 murders for the period between April 2017 and March 2018, down from 26 for the same period the previous year.
Representatives of the 25 “gang stations” in the Western Cape were present at the awards ceremony.
Colonel Adonis said the station had also seen an 81.1% increase in illegal firearms and ammunition seizures over the past year.
Rape cases had dropped 60%, sexual assault by 57.14 %, and common assault by 45.45%.
“There have been incidents in the area but not many have been gang related,” he said.
“We are surrounded and responsible for many different structures, such as Vangate Mall, the two stadiums, businesses, and the Athlone Magistrate’s Court and still we cope with addressing gangs, which is a priority in the province.”
The most prominent gangs in the precinct are the Vikings, Americans, Bad Boys, Hard Livings, Play Boys and G-Unit.
Colonel Adonis said gang violence was under control as police had identified targets and cases were being investigated.
“The community, community police forum, and neighbourhood watch have played a huge role in this award. They mobilise the masses to protest outside of court which helps in the sentencing.
“Residents also keep a watch on parolees’ movements. I thank my members and the community for their assistance,” he said.
Athlone Community Police Forum chairwoman, Aziza Kannemeyer, congratulated the police on the award.
“This is a result of the efforts and hard work of the CPF, neighbourhood watch, sub forums, and other organisations. The improvement of our relationship and partnerships will allow us to continue to improve the lives of our communities in Athlone.”
Gatesville Neighbourhood Watch chairwoman, Fowzia Veerasamy, said: “We are very proud of SAPS. They have been tackling the issues of the community for a long time and finally they have received recognition. It really makes us feel proud of all the work that we do. The joint weekly patrols and stop and searches has been the break-through here.”