Cape Town -
Armed and wearing body armour, metro police officers swooped on suspected drug dens and did random stop and searches in Mitchells Plain’s streets on Wednesday.
JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security, took a hands-on approach - joining metro police officers in frisking young men on the pavements of Beacon Valley and searching alleged gangsters’ homes.
A new target for these searches are scooters, which gangsters use for transporting drugs. The scooters are favoured because they are effective in escaping down alleys, which police vehicles cannot access.
While the Cape Argus rode along with the operation, the metro police confiscated a .38 special handgun, 14 units of heroin and two tablets of mandrax during a stop-and-search and a house raid, respectively.
“This is what our focus is for today - guns and drugs,” Smith said.
“The drugs are the drivers of the violence and the guns are the enablers. It is important that we target these, and ensure that we take both the drugs and guns out of circulation.”
At one address, officers made half a dozen male occupants lie in the courtyard with their foreheads on the concrete floor while the house was searched. All that was recovered was a makeshift tattoo device, which Smith alleged was used in “marking new recruits for life”.
With shootings happening on a daily basis, Beacon Valley and Hyde Park have been held ransom by drug merchants and gang members for months, residents told the Cape Argus. On Saturday four people, including a child and two youths, were shot dead in Beacon Valley.
Safety MEC Dan Plato also visited the area on Wednesday.
There were gunshots in Hyde Park shortly before he and his entourage arrived on Wednesday morning.
Plato walked door to door in Hyde Park’s Honolulu Street. With a public address system, which followed him in a vehicle, he called residents from their homes and asked them to raise their grievances over crime in the area. While some residents listened attentively as Plato called for a united front between the government and citizens to address gangsterism, others chirped from the fringes.
“This is obviously just about elections,” said Fire Gum, a 40-year-old resident with four children.