Gangs sign peace accord for Mandela
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Johannesburg - Bekkersdal residents on the West Rand took a leaf from Nelson Mandela’s book and agreed to end their gang wars.
Service delivery protests have been overshadowed by rising gang warfare and fatalities in the area - the gangsters being schoolchildren who have formed small ethnic groupings: the amaXhosa versus the Batswana.
One victim was Tony Phato - popularly known as DJ T-Lesh - who was hacked to death on June 7.
His killers stabbed him several times and dumped him near the Donaldson Dam.
He was not a gang member. He was killed because his family home was in the same suburb as his killers’ rivals’ homes.
Other victims suffered the same fate.
This prompted several affected families to organise themselves into neighbourhood watches to protect their families. But this did not prove to be a lasting solution.
Mothers and fathers had to escort their children to school daily.
On Thursday, during the breakthrough, hundreds of local residents witnessed the signing of the peace agreement between the three major gangs: Zaka Dollar Mafias, Tears of Pain and the Colombia gang.
Bekkersdal station commissioner Captain Mohatle, correctional services and police staffers including the national public order policing unit from Pretoria, and ANC members, as well as the Greater Westonaria Concerned Residents Association members, attended the peace signing.
The gang members marched together with residents along the streets of Bekkersdal and announced that they had renounced violence.
The march ended at the Mandela grounds, where the pledge for peace was made.
The gangsters asked government officials and the residents’ association to help them integrate into their communities.
The Bekkersdal branch of the Police Prisons and Civil Rights Union offered to avail money for them to set up small businesses, while correctional services officials want to teach them about the negative effects of crime on human development.
Correctional services officer Thabo Phalalo said they would take the gangsters early next year to their correctional centres and show them the horrible lives lived by members of the infamous 26 and 28 gangs. “We don’t want children in our prisons, ” he said.