Residents in fear as young gangsters terrorise KZN town
Durban - ANGRY residents of Osizweni, in Newcastle, say they are being terrorised by two rival gangs in the area who walk around in large groups carrying pangas and knives.
In the latest incident on Monday, it is alleged that a group of more than 50 boys tried to enter a classroom during a matric exam at a school in the area as they wanted to attack a pupil who was a member of a rival gang.
The exam was completed despite the disruption, however.
The head of department for education in KwaZulu-Natal, Enock Nzama, confirmed that they had received a report about the incident.
“In another school, Xolani High School, a pupil was also killed by these gangsterism activities. We have identified a list of schools where we are calling for police visibility, and the list has been submitted to the police ministry,” said Nzama.
The community raised their concerns during a police ministry imbizo held at Osizweni yesterday.
The imbizo was attended by Police Minister Bheki Cele, national Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole and various government departments including Education, Social Development, and the National Prosecuting Authority.
According to the community, the war was between two gangs who call themselves “The last warning” and “Juveniles”, which consist of boys aged between 12 and 20.
Residents claimed that more than 13 people had been killed as a result of the gang violence.
They said the two gangs walk around in groups of up to 50, armed with knives, pangas and guns, and terrorise the community.
They also alleged that the gangs were selling drugs at schools.
“We are living in fear. We are not safe and we have nowhere to run. The police are failing us and we no longer have trust in them,” said a resident, Skhumbuzo Nhlapho.
Nhlapho urged the ministry to install mobile police stations, redeploy police to the area, and provide resources such as vehicles for police officers.
“When we call for help, they tell us that there are no vehicles. Osizweni is developing every day and it’s very big, but we have only one dysfunctional police station,” he said.
Another resident, Bandile Msibi, said they had engaged with KZN Community Safety MEC Bheki Ntuli in July before the situation escalated.
The residents also said that the gang violence had spread to Dannhauser, Madadeni and the Newcastle CBD.
Cele assured the community that they would deal decisively with the gangsterism.
“We are going to be revisiting this place. These young children are being used by certain individuals to sell drugs, and we need to get those people. It’s all well and good to deal with these children, but we need to get to the root of this issue,” said Cele.
He also noted that a community meeting had been held last week to plot the way forward, but parents had not attended.
“We have created a nation of fear where parents are afraid of their kids. It is clear that we don’t have a future.”
Responding to the community outcry about the police inaction, Cele issued a stern warning and said more focus would be directed towards the operations of the station.
“In a week or two, a team from the national office needs to be sent here to investigate the police station and officers. They will also have to give us a full report,” added Cele.
KZN violence monitor Mary de Haas said it was shameful and unacceptable that no one had yet been arrested.
“There are facilities that deal with addressing criminal actions by minors; they must be arrested and taken to those facilities. The police have failed the community as they did not intervene,” said De Haas.
She added that it was going to be hard for parents to control children who had already been gang members.
“For these young children, to be in these groups acts as some form of gaining status, being recognised, being feared, and also for protection,” she said. “They become popular and get a sense that they are in charge. The police need to step up and be heard.”