Cape Town – Bishop Lavis parents met last night to formulate a plan to deal with gang activity in the area after four innocent youths were shot at the weekend, and residents of Bonteheuwel are equally concerned about how the gang wars are impacting their lives.
Bishop Lavis Action Community, who picketed in front of the local police station throughout the festive season and have demanded base camps and tactical response units in the hot spots, insist that the Cape Flats be declared a disaster area.
On Wednesday, Bonteheuwel residents called for the intervention of national intelligence agencies to stop gang wars in the area. At least 15 people have been shot dead over the past two months.
Some residents believe the police's new Anti-Gang Unit is not sufficient to tackle the scourge.
The area's ward councillor, Angus McKenzie, told the SABC there has been a surge in gang-related deaths since the inception of the Anti-Gang Unit. He believes designated resources in the area are critically needed.
Referring to the anti-gang unit, McKenzie said, "they come and shake houses. They arrest a number of people. They take them for booking. Within 24 hours, most of those people are back on the streets”.
On Tuesday, Parliament's portfolio committee on police received a briefing from the SAPS on the implementation of the anti-gang strategy and the roll-out of units.
In discussing the effectiveness of the anti-gang strategy, the committee invited civil society groups and community leaders from four different provinces, the Western Cape, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Free State, to give their testimony on their experiences and concerns about law enforcement in gang-infested areas.
Among those invited were Cosatu, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, United Public Safety Front, community- based organisations and CPFs.
Cosatu deputy parliamentary co-ordinator Tony Ehrenreich said gangs are growing exponentially and are no longer limited to just drugs and violent crime in certain communities.
"They are rapidly growing into well organised criminal syndicates, expanding into new economic sectors and taking over countless communities," Ehrenreich said.
He said the government has largely failed to halt this crisis.
"It threatens the collapse of the government in many communities. If we want to make progress as a nation and to avoid following the route of some failed states, then a joint concerted and serious action between government, community, business is urgently needed," Ehrenreich said.