Get IOL's cool new iPad app...
Hanover Park residents are demanding the declaration of a state of emergency in the gang-ridden area and want the army deployed in the troubled suburb.
During a meeting with Western Cape Community Safety MEC Dan Plato this week, community leaders said the army was best equipped to curb the spate of gang violence and ongoing shootings.
Several attacks have taken place in broad daylight.
Pastor Isaac Rubain said while a state of emergency and calling in the army might sound “a little extreme”, he was desperate to find solutions.
“I’m not talking about tanks on every corner. I’m talking about armed soldiers maintaining peace on street corners and for our courts to resolve the problem immediately.”
He was speaking after months of
gun battles between the Ghetto Kids and the Americans, which have claimed several lives and wounded scores.
At the moment there’s no war in South Africa. What is the army doing? What happens with our tax money? Why can’t they set up a tent here in Hanover Park to do patrols? Or is it too much to ask on behalf of our children who are dying in this ongoing violence?”
Residents, who support his appeal, said the drugs racket should also be tackled.
Vandalised homes are where the gangs are operating their drug dens,” said one resident in a call for a crackdown on such venues.
Others blamed police corruption.
We’ve seen some of the police carrying in food and cellphones for these gangsters. It is unacceptable that our children are killed while some policemen are in cahoots with these gangs,” said a woman.
Others said street committees and committees based in the residential courts should be revived.
“We need street or court committees like in the old days to keep the gangsters out of our area. If you see them with guns walking around you start clamping down,” said Rashieda Davids of the Women’s Development Forum.
“If we have street committees then the gangs can no longer just come and shoot as they like. We need to get every person who’s at home to check up on what is happening.”
She said ordinary people needed to take back their power and reduce the areas where gangsters felt safe to operate.
Fatiema van Schoor said she played her part even if a shooting took place in the early hours. “
All of us who live in Hanover Park see our children being shot. We see the blood running from the bodies of our children and, when we go to the crime scene, we see it’s a neighbour’s child or a family member lying dead. This must stop.
People who don’t live in this area should not make decisions about what’s happening here. How can we have solutions if those who are living here have no say?”
One resident held up a bullet which had pierced a couch when gangs opened fire in one of the courts last Sunday night.
“A woman was sitting on that very couch where the bullet ended up. It’s a miracle she was not hurt, but the worst of all is the fact that until today, the Philippi police have failed to respond to the call,” he said.
Residents said they were afraid to venture out after dark.
“Police lack the tools to fight gangs,” one woman said.
Another man said: “Gang members will retaliate and hurt people who talk,” while a neighbour added: “The gangs are at war in our area, and innocent people are being caught in the crossfire.”
Plato has vowed to return to the area, along with Western Cape premier Helen Zille, to address the problem.