Western Cape Health department spokesperson Jo-Anne Otto said the last time the team had visited the area last month, they had to leave in haste when the popping sounds the team thought were children playing with fire-crackers turned out to be gunfire from gangs shooting at each other. The moms and children were sent home. It took a while before the community could be convinced not to “allow gangsters to affect their access to health services. The team was requested to return,” said Otto.
The Western Cape government health team returned with police protection last week to complete the vaccinations.
A spokesman for a community-based crime monitoring group in Worcester and Boland towns, who didn’t want to be named, said yesterday that barring sporadic incidents when the gangs took pot-shots over gripes about the cost of airtime or other service delivery issues, the area has been calm. “The churches have convinced the gangs to stay calm. People are also standing up, supporting and helping each other,” he said.
Aid groups wanted to help the people in the flats but were “scared to go in and to take a chance”.
On Saturday, at Riverview, violence was narrowly averted when police kicked open the wrong door, while pursuing a suspect, said the spokesperson, who welcomed the rainy weather because it kept the gangsters indoors.
Gang violence erupted in Avian Park and Riverview in March and continued until June, leaving five people dead and several homes razed.