Community in Bekkersdal are in vigilante watch since the township gang violence flares, turf war is raging between the two rival gangs Creatures and Calabash.719 Picture: Matthews Baloyi 2014/06/09

Cape Town - The Department of Community Safety has six months to set up a task team focused on dealing with youth gangs in Khayelitsha as well as draw up a plan to address the issue.

The plan will also have to be implemented within the same period.

In its 580-page report on policing, the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry identified the rise of youth gangs as a policing challenge in the township and said there was no proper plan to deal with them.

It pointed out the poor manner in which the police dealt with youth gangs.

It recommended that the Department of Community Safety establish a multi-sectoral task team on youth gangs working with the police, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Western Cape Education Department, the Justice and Correctional Services departments in the province and the city.

It should also include school principals, school governing bodies, NGOs working with youth and experts on childhood development.

The unit would be tasked with drawing up a strategic plan to address the issue. The commission said the plan should aim to address:

* Safety in schools, including the prohibition of weapons on school grounds.

* Protect children travelling to and from schools in Khayelitsha from being targeted by gang members or criminals.

* The provision of after-school care and extra mural activities for pupils in Khayelitsha.

* A consistent approach to the arrest and prosecution of young people suspected of committing crimes.

* The development and extension of programmes for youth at risk, such as the existing Chrysalis Academy.

* Crime intelligence work to assist in the eradication of violent gang practices.

Those who testified at the hearings said many of the gang members were teenagers who were still at school.

Gang fights mostly took place on or near school grounds.

Some children have stayed away from school for fear of being targeted by the gangs.

Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said it was “too soon” to say how the task team would be set up.

“We have to look at how we will tackle the issue.”

Equal Education’s Ntuthuzo Ndzomo, who leads the NGO’s Youth Group in Site B, welcomed the recommendation of the team and said the organisation would support it.

Gang activity also affected Equal Education members who worked at Khayelitsha schools.

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Cape Times