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Cape Town - The Western Cape government will divert R6 million from its education department to the City of Cape Town in an effort to curb gang-related violence in Manenberg.
The announcement at the provincial legislature on Sunday by Premier Helen Zille and mayor Patricia de Lille follows the forced closure of 16 schools in the area last week due to gang activity and months of bloodshed which has led to several deaths and injuries.
“In recent months, we have seen a spike in gang violence in many hotspot areas, particularly Manenberg, linked to the recent release of gang leaders. Many of those who have been killed have been innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire between rival gang members,” Zille and De Lille said in a joint statement.
“It is clear that gang violence has reached a crisis point in Manenberg, which is now threatening education in the area.
“After meeting these educators, both the city and the province have introduced a plan to ensure the safety of learners and educators so that teaching and learning can continue from tomorrow.”
They said money would be diverted from other priorities in education.
“The City of Cape Town, together with the Western Cape government, met residents in Manenberg on Thursday evening to discuss new steps that could be taken to meet the safety concerns of the educators of shut schools.”
The R6m would be used to pay the salaries of metro police who would be stationed at the 16 schools.
“They are seasonal trained casuals and contracted staff. The R6m is for their salaries,” said mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith.
Neighbourhood safety officers and school resource officers would also be deployed at seven schools – Sonderend Primary, Silverstream High, Edendale Primary, Downsville Primary, Manenberg High, Rio Grande Primary and Red River Primary.
Since August 1, the city’s safety and security directorate has, in Manenberg:
* Conducted 50 operations
* Confiscated five guns and ammunition
* Made 19 drug-related arrests.
* Searched 80 premises.
* Searched 33 vehicles.
* Searched 613 people.
* Made 15 non-drug related arrests.
* Issued 621 traffic fines.
Zille and De Lille said the provincial government and the city had limited powers in the fight against crime and violence but would continue to play their respective roles.
“While we are doing everything possible to make communities safer through crime prevention programmes, we will never successfully tackle gang violence if the gang members responsible for violent acts and criminal behaviour are not brought to justice and put behind bars.
“We also repeat our calls for President Jacob Zuma to authorise the employment of the SANDF in gang hotspot areas,” they said.
De Lille said teachers had two main concerns – their safety when travelling to and from work and violence outside the school premises.
Smith said officers would report for duty an hour before school starts and would stay an hour after school was out.
Zille re-emphasised the province’s call to the national government for the army to be deployed to Manenberg.
“It is a temporary peacekeeping measure. It will free the police to do what they are uniquely required to do – make arrests and compile investigations.
“Until gangsters are locked away we can’t bring down the violence,” she said.