Residents of Philippi gather at the Philippi East police station to voice concerns over the recent murders in the area and the lack of police presence. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – Fed-up Philippi East residents stormed their police station
demanding action after 11 people were killed in less than  24 hours.

The shootings forced police to place the area under a 72-hour lockdown by public order police, the K-9 unit, and Flying Squad. Five men, aged between 18 and 39, were shot and killed and another injured on Saturday night.

Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said two of the men were killed at a local tavern while the bodies of the three others were found in a nearby house.

The shooting came hours after the bodies of six women, aged between 18 and 26, were found with gunshot wounds in the Marcus Garvey informal settlement.

The young women were shot in the yard and main house of the property.

“The motive for these shooting incidents remains the subject of an intensive police investigation. From an investigation perspective, detectives with crime intelligence are hard at work following leads that could result in the arrest of the perpetrators of these incidents,” Van Wyk said.

Inside the Philippi East police station yesterday, disgruntled protesters, the majority women, from Lower Crossroads said the murders signalled inadequate policing and that crime was out of control. They believe that if the police could conduct foot patrols, it would help reduce crime.

The station falls under the policing cluster of Nyanga, dubbed the crime capital of South Africa because of its high murder rate, with Philippi’s Browns Farm fingered as the main area of concern.

This is the same cluster where six members of the anti-gang unit were wounded after being ambushed while tracing suspects wanted for murder last month. Nyanga Community Policing Forum (CPF) chairperson Martin Makasi said residents had lost hope in the police and were angry after the mass shootings.

“There is no honesty from the police management. We have been promised a lot of things since 2017.

"People are tired of lies and empty promises.

"We still have staff shortages and lack of resources which are contributing factors and have been pointed out for years.

"This cluster has been leading in crime in the country for about five years. The Philippi East police station has no leadership; their station commander has been on sick leave for months now,” Makasi added.

He said they were met with threats of being suspended as the CPF when they wanted to speak out about the situation.

“When we enquired about the additional Tactical Response Team members that we were promised, we were informed they failed training. 

"We need police management that won't only respond with short-term actions after mass shootings but one that will implement a long-term action. Police Minister Bheki Cele’s plan to spread the AGU needs to be implemented soon.”

Councillor Siphiwo Nqamnduku, who visited the scene where the six women were killed, said the area was tense, with residents afraid to come forward with information that could assist with the investigation.

"What happened there is very sad. The eldest, 26, had a child aged three. Last Thursday, people were also killed, everyday we just hear gunshots.

"We really don't know what to do or say when families come to us as councillors for help.”

Nqamnduku said councillors also lived in fear after visiting the victims’ families. Police said that all information received regarding the incidents would be treated with confidentiality.

Anyone with information can anonymously call the investigating officer Warrant Officer Larry Arnoldus on 0798809822 or Crime Stop on 08600 10111, alternatively SMS Crime Line on 32211.

In Hanover Park, residents were also up in arms after three women were shot and wounded just hours apart yesterday.

Among them was community activist Mary Bruce, who was shot in the leg while hanging out her laundry.

About five years ago, Bruce lost her eldest son to gang violence which spurred her on to give youth in her community an opportunity to turn away from a life of crime and substance abuse.

Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said: “We are aware of the incident. Both victims, who were shot in their legs, did not want to lay criminal charges but police would be investigating two cases of attempted murder.”

A third woman was also wounded in a shooting in Kitty Walk. Police were investigating a case of attempted murder, said Van Wyk.