Police, media slammed over gangs

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iol news pic cw American Gang with pagad story INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Gang members show where their loyalties lie. Picture: Neil Baynes

Cape Town - The increased presence of police in gang-ridden areas in Cape Town may be for naught, the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Re-integration of Offenders (Nicro) said on Friday.

“Though the police presence has mercifully increased (in places like Hanover Park and Lavender Hill), it is obvious that police action is, at best, too little, too late,” Nicro deputy CEO Celia Dawson said.

“To my mind, police statistics only provide us with an indicator of output, not impact, as the gang fights and killings continue unabated.”

She said gangsterism was endemic in the province and had thrived in deprived communities, which had been torn apart by apartheid and its disintegration of family life.

“Youth, young adults and older males in particular have lost the ability to craft a life for themselves. This helplessness and hopelessness have contributed to the relentless phenomenon of the gang.”

Dawson said drugs were the local currency for these communities, both as a means of earning a living and as a way to dull the pain of hopelessness.

Gangs managed to enrol members because they offered, in some form, a sense of belonging. They also provided resources to families in desperate need of sustenance.

Despite the numerous killings on the Cape Flats, various parties continued to point fingers at each other.

She said national ministers were disingenuously pointing to socio-economic causes of gangsterism, while provincial authorities were pointing to the incompetence of the police.

The media were also at fault, pointing their cameras and pens at various sensational angles, she said.

“While there is no quick fix, nor only one best way to resolve this social ill... for the immediate short term we need to find a rapid way of bringing matters under control and stability to these communities.”

Dawson said strong law enforcement would provide a window of opportunity to introduce more sustainable developmental strategies.

These tactics would include social crime prevention and socio-economic approaches.

“Are the local police able to provide this level of strong law enforcement? If not - and the army cannot be deployed in the immediate term - can someone please come up with a solution?” - Sapa


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