Residents at a block of council flats in Heideveld have accused their ward councillor of trying to stop them from holding parties, cake sales, and other community events because of gang violence in the area.
Anthony Moses had told Betsy Court residents that they could no longer hold the events there because of gang shootings, said Wirdaat Adams, who stays in the block.
“He has been telling people that we will receive a letter. Then we won’t be able to have events anymore because of the shooting in the court and at Allison Court.
“We must stop because of the unrest of gangsters fighting each other. Why must our things stop? They don’t shoot us; they shoot each other. What grounds do they have to stop us? We are not doing anything wrong. What’s wrong with a little cake sale? We keep the community safe when we have events. The elderly enjoy our cake sales and clothing sales,” she said.
Stacey Thwaits, from Betsy Court, said a fight had broken out between two 18-year-old gang members during a disco at the block about two weeks ago, but the fight had had nothing to do with the disco.
“Police came and shot a warning shot, but most of the people were gone already. The gangs shoot every day. We are familiar with the faces of gangsters so they won’t mess with us. Our gates were locked. We wouldn’t let them come in here. The fight has nothing to do with us,” she said.
Another Betsy Court resident, Charlene Adams, said officials at the City’s rental housing office in Heideveld had last week given the residents permission to carry on holding community events, but they had subsequently withdrawn that permission
“We never see our councillor. We can’t report anything to him. He’s never visible,” she said.
Mr Moses said he had advised the residents not to go ahead with events due to the instability of the area, but it was ultimately the City’s rental-housing office, as the custodian of the flats, that had the final say on whether residents could hold events or not at the premises.
“As a city, we promote social cohesion, but not at the risk of others,” he said.
“Permission must be granted by housing. If the area is unstable, there are community centres that can be of use.”
He said only eight council tenants had signed a petition saying they still wanted fund-raisers in the court despite the shooting in the area, and the other names on the petition were people who sub-let from the tenants.
“I will be calling a meeting with the group to address the matter. Furthermore there must be an events application. Housing have called in the group and advised them on the policy directives,” he said.
Manenberg police station spokesman Captain Ian Bennett said that Heideveld had experienced sporadic shootings for the past month.
“I wouldn’t say that they should cancel their events based on gang violence. They should have their events but with police or Law Enforcement present,” he said.