Pagad not needed, say police

Picture Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD) says it’s ready to go in to Manenberg to fight gang violence, but the police say the area has been calm with “only” five murders in the past two months.

Pagad’s national co-ordinator Haroon Orrie met with residents in Duinefontein Road last Monday, where he spoke about the possibility of the organisation having a presence in the area.

Mr Orrie told the Athlone News that all those who wanted to see an end to the scourge of violence should pull together, as there was strength in unity. That, he said, included politicians.

“People have been asking us for assistance with gangsterism for a long time. People are tired; they want change. There are people’s children who have been implicated in gang violence. They need the violence to stop.

“It is possible to change as long as the people are willing to do something about the situation. The area needs a holistic change. The families need to be rehabilitated,” he said.

Mr Orrie said it was difficult to deal with a community that had been terrorised for so many years.

Pagad came into being in the mid-1990s in response to the drugs and violence plaguing Cape Flats communities.

The organisation adopted increasingly violent tactics against suspected drug dealers and gangsters. In 1996, a mob shot and set alight Hard Livings gang leader Rashaad Staggie during a Pagad march.

However, Mr Orrie said Pagad’s fight against gangsterism in Manenberg would happen lawfully. Pagad would help the community stand firm against gangsterism, he said.

“They need to fight against this or they will bury more children. Change will happen and it will be within the parameters of the law,” he said.

However, Manenberg police spokesman Captain Ian Bennett, said Pagad wasn’t needed in the area.

There had been “only” five murders in Manenberg since September 1, he said, and of those three had been gang-related.

“The situation has been calmed down because of efforts made by the community and other organisations,” he said,.

“We have managed to break the backbone of the Junky Funky Kids by arresting the gang leader, Garant Desmond Paulse, from Heideveld.”

Paulse is serving two life sentences for murder – the first of which was committed in October 2016 and the other in July 2017.

However, Manenberg Community Safety Forum chairwoman Roegchanda Pascoe believes Pagad will bring stability to the area and strengthen the community.

She said gangs fed on resident’s fear and Pagad could help to change that.

“Residents are living in fear. At least if Pagad is here they will get the support they need and be able to stand united which is of utmost importance – this area needs to unite in the fight against crime.”

Ms Pascoe said many families had lost loved ones to gang violence, but intimidation from gangs meant court cases were dropped and witnesses retracted statements or refused to testify.

“I just hope that Pagad isn’t coming here to beat people up and leave but to actually get to the root of gangsterism,” she said.

Manenberg ward councillor Aslam Cassiem, said he supported any initiative to fight crime. “I accept any help to decrease crime in the area as long as it is done in a peaceful and legal manner,” he said.