Gang wars put lives at risk

South Africa - Cape Town - 4 June 2019 - The body of the 20-year-old Amiena Abrahams has been found in a waste truck on the depot site b in Hanover Park. Pictures: Leon Knipe/African News Agency(ANA)

Hanover Park remains a volatile area for residents to live in as gangs fight over turf put innocent people’s lives at risk.

For the first week of this month, 45 criminal activity complaints were lodged through the City of Cape Town’s public emergency communication centre. These included 18 from Hanover Park and 11 complaints from Manenberg.

From January to March this year the ShotSpotter programme detected 1 465 gunshots in Hanover Park and Manenberg which resulted in 15 injuries and three arrests made. One gun was confiscated.

Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, said although the ShotSpotter programme in Hanover Park detected where the shooting occured, it has no pattern, which made it difficult to deploy resources effectively.

“Already, the City has moved more staff to work overnight shifts, as that is when the violence is prevalent. We have requested that the SAPS Crime Intelligence Division come on board to assist in what appears to be a struggle for turf in the area,” he said.

Mr Smith added that data showed that bigger calibre weapons were being used in addition to handguns, and that there were elements within the taxi industry who are involved now too, which resulted in a taxi being set alight two weeks ago.

Mr Smith said that while the situation in Manenberg has stabilised, it has allowed the Metro police gang and drug task team to focus on Hanover Park but Bonteheuwel and Lavender Hill also needed attention.

“However, the City’s Metro police department simply does not have enough boots on the ground to sustain interventions to the extent that SAPS are required to by law. The situation will improve in the coming months courtesy of additional resources, but it will still take a while before these new officers complete their training. Ultimately, crime prevention remains the primary responsibility of the South African Police Service. The City’s role is to provide support to SAPS, as far as our resources allow.” he said.

In the interim the City has made adjustments, including adjusted times of shifts and deployments to respond to the pattern of late night violence, brought extra shifts on board, maximised overtime deployment, and ongoing engagement with the police force.

Although the City has invested more funding into its safety and security directorate, Mr Smith said that would be futile unless the police also started addressing its resource challenges.

“The intergovernmental dispute around the level of resourcing within SAPS is a matter that needs to be resolved urgently if we are to make any meaningful impact in the areas worst affected by crime.

“We call on the community to assist both the City and SAPS by reporting any incidents as they happen, or by sharing any intelligence that could lead to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the shooting incidents and the confiscation of the firearms involved,” he said.

Provincial police spokesman, Captain FC Van Wyk, said reported incidents had decreased from last week.

He said the current gang fight in Hanover Park was over gang leadership and that gang violence was difficult to anticipate as it happened sporadically.

He said the police force would work with law enforcement agencies to stabilise the area.

“Information sharing and reporting of incidents as well as information regarding hideouts of wanted, firearms and drug outlets would help us,” he said.

Chairperson of the Hanover Park Community Police Forum, Kashiefa Mohammed, said gang leaders were using minors to shoot because they knew they could not be sentenced.

“It needs to stop. The child goes in and comes out the next day and shoots again. It’s a sickness that’s happening in our area. We can’t walk around, our children can’t go to school and taxi drivers are being robbed. There is no unity in the community so our hands are cut off. We try to be the eyes and ears of the police but it goes deeper than we know,” said Ms Mohammed.

She said mothers of children involved in gangs should speak up.

“How many more children must die before they deploy more police? If the ShotSpotter picks up the location of the shot, why do they take more than 20 minutes to get there? It must be an instant thing. Many people don’t even know about the ShotSpotter or about the cameras.

“Some of the mothers are even ‘proud’ of their children for shooting; they cheer them on and clap hands and say ‘skiet hulle’, “ she said.

Ms Mohammed said the area needs recreational activity for the youth so that the children don’t get involved with gangs. She said the City needs to liaise with the community to fix the area.

“The gangsters know more about their plans than us. We want more intervention and more visibility,” she said.

Residents can report incidents or tip-offs via the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre by dialling 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone.