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GANG leaders are to apologise to the people of Hanover Park whom they have terrorised for decades.
The apology and a truce, which has been scheduled to take place tomorrow, follows a promise by Lavender Hill gang leaders on Sunday to stay true to a ceasefire.
The Laughing Boys, Americans, Ghetto Kids and Spoilt Brats in Hanover Park had once more agreed to lay down their weapons to allow for peace negotiations, said the Hanover Park community police forum (CPF) yesterday.
“There were no Mongrels. Our last peace negotiations still stand with the Mongrels,” said CPF chairman Anthony Daniels.
Eleven gang-related murders have been recorded in Hanover Park since gang violence erupted in May. This prompted calls from Premier Helen Zille and residents for the army to be deployed to the area.
The most recent reported figures show that gang violence claimed the lives of at least 23 people, including seven children, in the city in five months.
Daniels said the CPF had facilitated a meeting between rival gang bosses, who acknowledged that they were “ready for peace”.
The rules had been simple: No weapons at the negotiations.
The facilitators said they were able to understand the language used by gangs, called “Sabela”, and were able to monitor when members strayed from the topic.
“They told us they were sorry for the loss of lives and that the shootings were among the youth, where there’s no control.”
Daniels said gang leaders had assured them they would try their best to formulate a peace agreement.
“They’re committed to do everything in their power to keep the peace, not only for Ramadaan, although they do feel they need to respect it.”
Daniels said CPF members had been negotiating with gangs for many years. “Unfortunately this recent gang fight was so big and totally different to the previous gang fights.
“Most times we knew what they were fighting for, but this time we didn’t. Sometimes they didn’t even know themselves what they were fighting about.”
Daniels said the leaders had agreed that they wanted government programmes and resources to keep young people occupied.
He said the civic centre, which was not being used during the day, could be used for indoors sports like pool and table tennis.
“We need to bring recreation back into the community… we need these projects to change mindsets, to teach them to modify their behaviour.”
This is not the first attempt at a peace truce. About two months ago a peace treaty, signed by rival gangs, was broken. Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said there was no guarantee that peace would last.
“We never expected any peace deal to last indefinitely.
“We are dealing with gangsters, with people who have come a long way with shooting and violence, so if there was perception that peace would last forever, that impression was wrong.”
Plato said a highlight for him was that the community leaders were involved.
“We will let the community do what they need to do because it is an honest attempt at grassroots level to look the gangsters in the eye.”
Meanwhile, Lavender Hill CPF chairman Kevin Southgate said a truce had been reached there on Sunday when religious representatives negotiated peace among the gangs.
“One of my concerns is that it seems like there’s a trend emerging, because the last time we had a truce was at the height of the gang violence around Christmas when they brokered peace.
“Now it’s Ramadaan and the concern is that they’ll make peace for a short period only.”
Southgate said it could also be that police were closing in on the gangs and that to deflect attention they had declared a truce.
“While one is thrilled that a truce has been called, I’m not too optimistic – we’ve been here before,” he said.
l Philippi police have confiscated three illegal firearms and several rounds of ammunition in two days in Hanover Park.
Yesterday, a 52-year-old man was arrested for being in possession of a 9mm pistol when police patrolled around Soetwater Court.
The man could not produce any legal documentation or licence. He was arrested for illegal possession of a firearm.
Meanwhile at about 6.15pm on Sunday, police swooped on a house in Athberg Walk, Hanover Park, and arrested a 42-year-old man for possession of an unlicensed firearm.
Police were following up on a shooting incident earlier that day.
The house was searched and a shotgun was found hidden in a bin in the kitchen.
Later that night, at about 7.30, a 45-year-old man was arrested for illegal possession of a 9mm pistol and ammunition at Garda Place, after police stopped to search “a suspicious- looking man”. The suspects will appear in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court.
l A 19-year-old pupil from Kasselvlei Comprehensive High School in Bellville South was stabbed to death by a fellow pupil after school yesterday, police said last night.
Warrant Officer November Filander said the pupils were seen quarrelling during school hours. The suspect waited outside the school gate and stabbed the pupil as he made his way home. He died on the scene. The suspect is still at large, Filander said.