Cape Town – In the first six months of the year, there had been 44 gang-related deaths in Bonteheuwel. Gangs ruled the streets.
However, one month since the deployment of the Neighbourhood Safety Team (NST), comprising 100 law enforcement officers, there has been no gang-related deaths. This despite about 85 000 people in the area not having a police station.
Thanks to tip-offs from the community, there have been more than 60 arrests, a variety of guns were confiscated, a huge amount of drugs removed and a suppression of gun-related violence.
Moreover, since its deployment last month, the SANDF, who usually do two- to three-hour operations, have only been seen in Bonteheuwel twice.
"A month ago Bonteheuwel was breaking and gangs controlled our streets. Today, a month later, the residents in partnership with the Bonteheuwel NST have taken back their streets and community," said ward councillor Angus Mckenzie.
"Between January 19 and June 19, we had lost 44 people to gang-related violence. Today, one month into the deployment of 100 Law Enforcement officers we have not had one gang-related murder.
"This is despite negative comments from CPF chair Graham Lindhorst, who openly stated that the success cannot be attributed to the NST deployment, and Henriette Abrahams, who claimed that the NST was not needed.
"We have seen over 60 arrests, various guns confiscated, huge amount of drugs removed and complete suppression of gun-related violence and this is just the beginning.
"I want to personally thank both the NST Team as well as the residents of Bonteheuwel who have formed a formidable partnership is taking back our streets.
"This partnership has resulted in a steady flow of tip-offs coming from members of the public ensuring arrests, confiscations and evidently the peace we have experienced over the last 30 days.
"We will continue on the mission to clean up Bonteheuwel. We are motivated by this success but very much realistic that we must continue to build partnerships in ensuring we keep Bonteheuwel safe.
"The safer we make Bonteheuwel, the more opportunities will present itself to the people of Bonteheuwel."
Abrahams, from the Bonteheuwel Development Forum, has a different take on Manenberg experiencing a murder-free month, saying on CapeTalk: "We have less shooting, murders because of feet on the ground, but what is not being said is that crime is just shifting… We still have an increase in smash-and-grabs on Jakes Gerwel and Valhalla Drive."
Mckenzie also had some questions surrounding the deployment of the army and its efficacy, asking: "How many arrests have been made by the police who have worked with them?
"How many gangsters that have been arrested have gone to court and been prosecuted. How many drugs and firearms have been confiscated?"
Until those questions have been answered and clarified, Mckenzie remains unconvinced whether the three-month deployment of the SANDF will have the desired effect.
"It's very much the same sort of failure that the AGU (Anti-Gang Unit) has been in Cape Town, with these roaming units just moving from area to area, making no sustainable changes."