People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) says the Western Cape government has let Cape Flats residents down, and the organisation is determined to take to the streets to tackle gang violence.

Pagad leader Abdus Salaam Ebrahim said the organisation had received countless calls from Cape Flats and township residents, who had turned to it to help them bring an end to the escalating gangs wars.

He said Western Cape politicians had been focusing on motorists using cellphones, instead of using resources to curb the violence and prevent innocent children from being killed in the streets.

This government is a joke. They are busy with trivial things when our people are dying. When did a cellphone became more important than a human life?”

Despite the government’s promise that it would clamp down on gangs in the province, there had been few arrests and no convictions.

“We are still eagerly awaiting the clampdown. The organised crime bosses have multiplied their empires and have escaped any jail time because of corrupt law enforcers. This government has failed to lock up these underworld bosses but they are eager to confiscate our cellphones.”

Ebrahim said every mother, father and child should unite and stand up against gangsters and drug dealers.

“It does not matter whose banner you unite under. It should not matter what race or religion you are – if you are against drugs and gangsters, we must come together and fight the scourge of drugs.”

He added that Pagad

would heed residents’ call for action. “We are busy planning our next move. But taking to the streets is of the utmost importance. We will not be deterred by the NIA who have actively been lobbying people against joining Pagad. We are not deterred by the fact that the intelligence agencies are watching us, taking our registration numbers and harassing those who are willing to join us.”

Many of the organisation’s recent applications to stage marches countrywide had been tuned down, he said.

If we can’t get legal permission, we can’t march. We do not want to break the law, but ordinary citizens are being denied the right to air their disapproval of the gangsters who live among them.”

If necessary, people might consider marching without permission if authorities continued to deny them the right to a peaceful protest.

Ebrahim also supported proposals for the army to be deployed to affected areas.

The people are already living in a state of emergency without the government having to declare a state of emergency. So, if the army is brought in to fight the gangs and the drug dealers, Pagad will endorse that.”

However, he warned that, unless the drug dealers were stopped, any intervention would be useless.

Weekend Argus