Hanover Park residents want a peaceful Ramadaan but shootings between rival gangs keep residents indoors and afraid for their lives.
The area remained tense and volatile as the Americans and Ghetto gangs shot at each other over drug turf, said Denver Andrews, chairperson of the Hanover Park Residents’ Association.
He said that shooting had reached “boiling point” and residents didn’t know what to do anymore. Mr Andrews said that 20 to 50 gunshots went off daily.
“Usually the fight is over drug turf but now it has been aggravated by the release of prisoners which we have spoken to the police about. They don’t have any answers for us. There’s lots of infighting in the gangs as well, which is spilling over into the community. We can’t even have a peaceful Ramadaan,” he said.
Mr Andrews said the Hanover Park Community Police Forum and the neighbourhood watch were trying to find out what the problem was, which has resulted in four deaths over the past week in “cowboy town”, a section of Hanover Park.
He said many others had been killed in the area and shootings were most rife in Ryburg and Lonedown roads.
“Parents are scared to send their children to school and to go work. There are no street lights, so that makes things worse at night. It’s going to be winter soon and we still have no street lights,” he said.
Principal of Belmor Primary School Carol Poole, said she discouraged parents from rushing to fetch their children when shooting occurred as the safest place for them to be was at school.
She said that although the school wasn’t in the midst of rival gang shooting this time, pupils lived in the area they were shooting in.
Ms Poole said staff feared for their lives when arriving and leaving school and pupils were traumatised and struggled to learn as they witnessed people being shot in their community.
“This time our children are safe and out of harm’s way but it isn’t always like that. The area is quite volatile, which it has been for the past couple of weeks,” she said.
Hanover Community Police Forum treasurer, Nasief Tape, said the shooting started in Pinate Estate a month ago and spilled over into neighbouring communities. He said no one knew what the war was about, not even some gang members themselves, who just shoot randomly.
He said the Dollar Kids, Americans, Ghettos, and Park Kids were at war.
“It’s a volatile situation, especially at night. People just stay indoors, not even the guys pushing trolleys are outside. Everything is tense, nobody wants to take a chance to walk outside because they fear being killed. We are trying to bring calm to the area,” he said.
The Athlone News tried to get comment from Philippi SAPS about the current crime situation and what is being done to address it, however, despite emails, calls and text messages, we didn’t receive a response at the time of publishing.