Cape Town -120515 - Safety and Security MEC Dan Plato chats to Gugulethu local Luthando Mahlanza, 34. Dan Plato joined local ward councillors in Gugulethu to hand out his cell number so that the locals can call him should they have any concerns about safety and security in their area. This is a measure in response to the conflict between two rival youth gangs, comprising primarily of boys, who harass people in the area, and fight amongst themselves. REPORTER: SIBONGAKONKE MAMA. PICTURE: THOMAS HOLDER

“Enough is enough” was the message to Community Safety MEC Dan Plato from Gugulethu residents who say they are terrified by the recent spike in teen gangsterism.

Plato’s visit was in response to reports that violence had worsened near the Kiki Hostel, which was affecting the greater Gugulethu area.

Neighbour Thando Jikelana, 49, said young gangsters needed to be punished for their actions.

“When they have been arrested, these children must be kept in custody and be assessed by social workers. You can’t just let them free.”

He said a conversation needed to be started with the children and their parents. “Rules must be made. The children must understand that they will be arrested if they break the rules.”

Jikelana said the violence between youngsters as young as 13 from Kiki Hostel and other parts of Gugulethu had been happening for almost three years, but had got worse lately.

“These fights aren’t even about turf control, it’s just imitation. The sad thing is that the little ones are also falling victim to this gangsterism. Children are dropping out of school which will… contribute to an increase in crime rates,” said Jikelana.

Last week a man was killed and 15 homes robbed and vandalised, with two burnt down, during gang violence. Plato said the violence wasn’t “that rife” until recently. “ We cannot afford anymore people getting killed and the burning down of houses. The violence must stop.”

Luvuyo Zondani, ward 38 councillor, said some of the youths had told him they wanted out of the gangs. “The boys want to stop, they just don’t know how, they need assistance. The causes of the conflict are fights over girlfriends and derogatory names they call each other, like amagoduka, when arguing about who is or isn’t from Cape Town,” said Zondani.

Luthando Mahlanza, 34, asked Plato: “What is the role of metro police in fighting crime? We only see the SAPS here; metro police must be visible.”

Nosimo Magula, 32, said: “We are not hiding our children; if they have done wrong they must be arrested, but in the correct manner.

Police shouldn’t just come chasing after our children with guns and taking them away without telling us what is going on.”

Plato said he would return during the week when the teens were at home.

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Cape Argus