Poor lighting adds to high crime rate

Most of the street lights in Gonubie Road, Manenberg, are broken, plunging the street into darkness.

Poor street lighting is aggravating the high number of sporadic shootings that crime-plagued Manenberg has seen recently, say residents.

So far this month, two people, including a 14-year-old boy, have been shot dead and five others injured in gang shootings in Manenberg, according to Manenberg police spokesman Captain Ian Bennett.

The 14-year-old was killed with a shot to the head as he stood in Andile Jacobs Street, Tambo Village, on Saturday July 17, at 6pm. Two men, aged 20 and 27, and two 16-year-old boys were wounded. Police arrested two men, aged 26 an 27, and a 13-year-old boy in connection with the shooting.

On Thursday July 2, at 7.30pm, a 31-year-old man was shot in the head when he answered a knock at the door of his Silversteam Road home. He died at the scene. The perpetrators fled on foot.

A 16-year-old girl was hospitalised after she was hit in the back by a stray bullet in Kei Street, on Sunday July 11, at 8pm.

On the same day, police arrested a 36-year-old man in Lataba Road for the possession of a 9mm gun loaded with five bullets. He appeared in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Monday July 12. On Saturday July 18, at 1.30am, police arrested four men aged 25 to 46 for the possession of guns and bullets. They appeared in Athlone Magistrate’s Court, on Monday July 19.

Manenberg Safety Forum chairwoman Roegchanda Pascoe said residents were living like prisoners as they feared leaving their homes after dark. The community had suffered for too long under the gangs, she said.

“Some of the lights are dim; some just don’t work at all. We use all of our energy and airtime to call various departments but no one comes out. Why must our people live like this? Your home is supposed to be your safe place, but not even that is safe. Our people are tired of living like this, they can’t take it anymore,” she said.

Manenberg Community Police Forum vice chairwoman Vanessa Adriaanse said the shootings had intensified in the past two months. Dark streets and masks made it very hard to identify perpetrators, she said.

“We wait forever for the City to come out and repair the lights and the gangsters also vandalise the lights. The City needs to figure out how to secure the lighting because I understand that they can’t keep replacing it. Something must be done to secure it then,” she said.

Captain Bennett said the gangsters exploited the poor street lighting to commit their crimes. Gangsters shooting out the lights and cable theft were to blame for a lot of the poor lighting in the area, he said.

The community should work with the police to root out criminal elements in the area, he said, adding that young boys were now throwing stones at each other and police vehicles, but their parents did nothing to stop them.

“While police are doing as much as we can, we need the community to work with us as well and take responsibility for their children,” he said.

Phindile Maxiti, mayoral committee member for energy and climate change, said theft and vandalism of street lights and other municipal electricity infrastructure had shot up since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown.

“The City is aware of the ongoing vandalism of electricity infrastructure, including damage to street lights in Manenberg. Our officials are attending to the matter. The City is also looking into ways to further protect its infrastructure. City teams go to the area regularly to conduct repairs to the street lights,” he said.