Crime ravaged communities are hoping that police minister Bheki Cele’s plan to deploy the new Anti-Gang Unit (AGU) will finally allow them to walk their streets in safety.
However, residents say they need to be informed about how the minister’s plan will work.
Mr Cele was reported last week as saying that the AGU would hit the streets of the Cape Flats in the next few days, following calls for peace and police intervention by fed-up residents.
His remarks were made at the home of Ameerodien Noordien, 19, a volunteer for the Gift of the Givers, who died in gang crossfire on Friday October 5 (“Volunteer dies in crossfire”, Athlone News, October 10).
Mr Cele also announced the return of the Bambanani programme but said that he would not allow any political interference.
A 21-year-old man allegedly involved in Ameerodien’s shooting handed himself over to Philippi police station on Wednesday October 10 and was due to make an appearance at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Monday on a charge of murder.
According to police, Ameerodien went to a shop in Surwood Walk where he and three others were shot.
He died after being shot multiple times in the chest and head while the three other men were wounded.
Mr Cele said the AGU was set to hit the streets by November 1 and would include 95 police officers, including detectives, the National Intelligence Unit and the Tactical Response Team.
“The unit will officially be launched at the end of the month, but in the next few days you will begin to see them on the streets,” he said.
“Who are we not to respond to the call when the communities have made that call? All I ask from you is to work with those special teams and share information with them.”
In the latest national crime statistics, Bishop Lavis police station ranked 21 in the top 30 police stations with the highest murder statistics.
The murder rate in the Bishop Lavis precinct, of which Bonteheuwel is part, stood at a staggering 98 while the attempted murder rate stood at 156.
In Manenberg 61 murders and 125 attempted murders were reported in the year while in the Philippi police precinct, which includes Hanover Park, 87 murders were committed and 88 sexual offences.
Manenberg polices spokesman Captain Ian Bennett said the AGU would be a resource to existing police by investigating organised crime. He said the unit would collect more evidence in order to build stronger cases and will also re-look at existing case’s evidence.
“They will be a help resource us, we will be on the ground and they will use higher forces to help us. When people are arrested they will conduct specialised investigations,” he said.
However, Hanover Park Community Police Forum’s (CPF) chairperson, Ebrahim Abrahams, said the CPF had not been informed of Mr Cele’s plan and that the communities needed to be consulted.
“I hope that this is not just a talk shop. We haven’t even been addressed about how it will work and they will be in our streets and communities. We are supposed to be their ears and eyes but there is no consultation. There is about 50 shots going off everyday but they have time to wait until November, who are they fooling?”
Mr Abrahams also said that anything that could help get rid of gangsterism was welcomed but needed to be executed properly.
Manenberg Safety Forum chairperson, Roegchanda Pascoe, said deploying the AGU to the Cape Flats was much needed and welcomed but she hoped it would be a permanent solution and that the unit wouldn’t be removed immediately after gang violence died down.
“We have seen this happening before where it just flares up again. Obviously gangs’ drug business will stop while the police are here but once they leave it will start again. The question is, are they doing this because of elections next year? It will make a difference but it needs to be a permanent thing,” she said.
Ms Pascoe said the AGU needed to be effective in what they planned to achieve.
“It must be run properly. We can have all the manpower but if they are not effective in what they do it will be useless. We are not here to play, there are people’s lives at risk. We need confirmation that it will stay here and not be taken away,” she said.
Bishop Lavis Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson, Graham Lindhorst, said the CPF and residents were quite happy with the decision.
He said while it will never be enough combat gangsterism on the entire Cape Flats, it is a good start.
“It is definitely something that is needed. People are getting away with killing our children in the streets,” he said.