Cape Town - Frustrated Bonteheuwel residents have called for more active policing and for politicians’ promises to be kept.
This is in their battle against burgeoning gang violence in the area.
The call was made at a meeting with MEC for Safety and Community Dan Plato.
Plato was accompanied by Mayco member for Safety and Security Councillor JP Smith to a joint meeting with residents at the Bonteheuwel Civic Centre on Monday night.
Plato said the army needed to move in and most police stations were understaffed, but residents retorted that police often slacked, and they were tired of promises.
The meeting followed several letters and e-mails that were sent by residents pleading for government intervention in the surge in gang violence and related deaths in the area. Residents said they were living as hostages in their own homes.
Plato told the residents of a letter he had written to the national police minister and commissioner regarding the reinstatement of the gang and drug unit, as well as the army, in the Cape Flats.
“We need the army in areas where there is a rise in gang violence. Shooters shoot with live ammunition, their aim is ‘shoot to kill’. We need forces trained to do that work.”
Plato said since the dismantling of the special units in 2003, drug-related crimes had increased from 19 940 to 82 062 by last year.
“We need police reservists to help police in patrols and visible policing.”
Of the police situation in the area, Abie Clayton said authorities parked their vehicles at traffic lights and some sat in their offices failing to patrol the area. “They sit there and chat while gunshots are being fired a few streets away. They take another 20 minutes to respond to a call - what for?”
The resident confronted Plato for making promises to the community that he did not deliver on. “A few weeks back when a little girl was shot, you made us so many promises, but none of those promises was kept.”
Pastor Isidore Africa of the AFM Church in Bonteheuwel spoke about the fear his congregation has when going to church on Sundays.
“lt’s been eight months since the shootings started in December, only now you want us to sit down with you and have this talk. What about the innocent lives that were lost?”
The pastor said if authorities did not do their work, the residents would do it for them.
Neville Haupte, of the Bonteheuwel Men in Action Society, said residents were not treated equally compared to those who lived in the suburbs.
“We have rights too. We also need your protection. It’s not right that we sit here and debate about lack of resources when there are resources in the city. You need to commit yourselves, but here you are only giving us promises.”