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SAHRC's hands tied when it comes to Cape Flats gang violence

Crime & Courts

Cape Town – Gang violence on the Cape Flats has become a human rights issue with residents complaining that their ability to enjoy their lives is greatly affected by the ongoing shootings.

But the Human Rights Commission said it could not investigate it as it was an issue that resides with the police.

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Stun grenades were used in Manenberg during gang violence, when police and residents clashed. Pictures: Leon Knipe

Grassy Park Community Policing Forum spokesperson Philip Bam said: “How do you comfort a mother whose child has been killed in crossfire. Allowing the gangs to run wild, randomly shooting at people, as they did in Bonteheuwel this week, that is a manifestation of failure in society and the institutions of society, family, church and school."

“We have become so weak as a society, unable to inculcate proper values, respect for others, their lives or their property. We need to work on it, we need to frustrate the gangsters’ recruitment drives through education and awareness, warn parents and children what to look out for,” said Bam.

SAHRC legal consultant Jo-Anne Stephanus said they were mandated by Chapter 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996 to investigate violations of rights entrenched in the Bill of Rights, as contained in chapter 2 of the Constitution.

The SAHRC determined that it is the sole responsibility of the police to “prevent, combat and investigate crime, maintain public order, protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, uphold and enforce the law, create a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa and prevent anything that may threaten the safety and security of any community”, said Stephanus.

Bam said every youngster killed in a shoot-out and the countless innocents caught in crossfire were the manifestation of the police’s inability to perform their constitutional duty.

Last week, in shoot-outs in Worcester, a 20-year-old man was shot at Riverview. On Tuesday a 17-year-old was shot at Avian and on Friday a 26-year-old man died at Roodewal after being shot five times in the upper torso.

In Rio Grande Street, Manenberg, on Saturday a 22-year-old mother was shot in the back. She was taken to hospital where she died. The baby was not injured.

Police were investigating the shootings, said police spokesperson Andre Traut.

Cheslyn Steenberg, Kensington CPF secretary said: “The SAPS is not the SAPS without the community and if the community can stand up, they can be powerful enough to tell the gangs to get out. We should be proactively protecting our freedom.”

By taking responsibility, the community is enhanced with integrity to hold each other and leadership accountable, he said.

Cape Argus

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