Cape Town - Bonteheuwel residents complained about the shortage and visibility of police and said gang shootings and other crimes could be prevented if policing was effective.
During a public meeting in Bonteheuwel on Sunday, residents said the police took too long to respond to their complaints and sometimes failed to make arrests despite people pointing out those involved in the shootings.
At the meeting, Bishop Lavis cluster commander Brigadier Andre Lincoln responded to a memorandum of complaints from the Bonteheuwel Joint Peace Forum.
The memorandum was given to the police during a march on March 9, when residents demanded to see more police patrols and for gangsters to be arrested.
Bonteheuwel resident Grant Abrahams told the meeting criminals roamed freely.
“Police say we must report crimes but when these guys are arrested they are not prosecuted or there is lack of witnesses and so the National Prosecuting Authority lets them go.”
He called for the Department of Correctional Services to be involved in combating crime because sometimes the community could not understand why convicted gang members were given parole.
”That is why many people do not want to be witnesses in court,” he said.
Abrahams said policing was not effective enough and that more young people were becoming gangsters.
Lincoln said an additional 22 police officers had been deployed to deal with crime in Bonteheuwel.
“In response to your memorandum we have set up a crime prevention unit to deal with crimes such murder, shooting, robbery and drugs. This team will be on standby to deal with this this crime. We know we have shortages in our staff. We are doing our best to make sure we are addressing the issue. You have valid concerns.
“The police can meet your demands when you, the community, work with us.
Lincoln said while some residents did not fully trust the police, all residents were urged to report crime and not fear gangsters.
“We have identified them (gangs) and we are closing in on them, added Lincoln.
Forum spokeswoman Soraya Salie said: “We are happy with their response to our memorandum. But, we feel the shortage of detectives was negatively addressed. It is a concern to us. We hope they will address this issue because it was one of the issues we highlighted. Even the brigadier agreed that they are short staffed.”
More than 30 people have been killed in gang-related shootings on the Cape Flats this year.