Philippi police have used an unconstitutional law to open a case against murder-weary Hanover Park residents who blockaded streets last week.
The police have accused the residents of contravening the Regulations of Gathering Act 12(1), that is failing to give notice for a gathering or march, despite the Constitutional Court ruling in November last year that this section of the act is unconstitutional.
Provincial SAPS spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said the Constitutional Court ruling did not stop the police being able to open a case.
About 500 residents took to the streets and blockaded roads on Wednesday July 3, calling on the police to work harder to stop relentless waves of gang violence that have taken countless lives in Hanover Park and surrounds.
Philippi police station spokesman Captain Lance Goliath saidhe could not confirm how many people had been killedin the area since the start of the year, but according to the latest officially released data – the national crime statistics of September last year – the murder rate in Philippi precinct, which includes Hanover Park, went up by 22 cases – from 65 in the previous year, to 87 from April 1 2017 to March 31 2018.
Organiser of the shutdown, Mansoer Arendse, said daily violence across the Cape Flats traumatised children.
Mr Arendse handed a memorandum to Philippi police station commander Colonel Dennis Abels, demanding, among other things, better policing, the daily deployment of the anti-gang unit and the cooperation of Police Minister Bheki Cele in fighting gangsterism.
Mr Arendse said that if the station commander did not meet with residents to discuss the way forward within seven days they would take to the streets again.
“The police were out in numbers. I asked them where do you get all the manpower now for innocent protesters, but when the shooting occurs there is no police for two to three hours. The violence is becoming a norm, no one is bothered anymore,” he said.
“Before elections, they could support us and have talks, but now we are left to die here. The anti-gang unit was launched here and the president came to see us, but that was all political tools.”
The community was being held hostage by a minority, he said.
“We can’t continue to live like this. People are so emotional as they have lost innocent family members. We need to stand up and rise for our children. It is school holidays, but they can’t even play outside and enjoy it.”
Residents waved placards calling for Hanover Park’s streets to be made safe while children marched down the road chanting, “Genoeg is genoeg!”
Hanover Park resident Moekmina Sampson accused the police of being slow to react when the shooting started.
“The police is nowhere to be seen. They don’t even come close when shooting goes on. They come a few hours after that. Two or three weeks ago, there are people who couldn’t even leave their homes for work. The shooting started in the morning at 8am on the Saturday and went on till the Sunday through the weekend and no police came, not one.
“You can’t even count the amount of shots that go off. It is very frustrating. The children are locked in; they can’t even play. What will happen to them if we don’t do anything? They are so used to being inside now they don’t even want to play outside anymore, and that is not healthy for them.
“You can’t spend thousands of rand in the parks upgrading it and no one can use it,” she said.
The memorandum would be sent up the chain of command for a response, said Captain Van Wyk. No damages had been reported during the shutdown and no one had been arrested, he added.
SAPS Philippi, riot police and other law-enforcement agencies would remain in the area to “monitor the situation”, he said.