Gangs on the rise: residents live in fear

2011-11-17 00:00

MPOPHOMENI residents are living in fear of gangs.

On Tuesday Community Safety MEC Willies Mchunu launched Operation Hlasela in the area in response to complaints about spiralling levels of drug abuse, violence and general crime.

Concerned locals packed a large marquee erected in the stadium for the launch, waiting about three hours for it to begin after the adverstised time of 9 am.

The area is known for gangs who take their names from the prison gangs, the 26s and the 28s.

Young children are reportedly joining the gangs and are terrorising the community.

The rise of gangsterism goes hand in hand with the spread of the use of drugs such as whoonga.

The understaffed police station is reportedly battling to cope.

The police station is an old township house that has only 43 police officer. There are four officers per shift, who are expected to serve a community of about 85 000.

Residents said they have sent numerous letters to the government complaining about the rise of crime in the area, but have had no response.

They claim that the gangs are committing murders.

Sizwe Nkomo, chairperson of the Howick Community Policing Forum, said the MEC focused on the area after three young men were killed in September.

“Three young men coming from watching a soccer game were ambushed … they were chopped up like wood and they were stabbed all over their bodies …”

He said drug use began to increase in about 2008.

“This community is living in fear of the horrors that are being committed. It is no longer safe to attend evening ceremonies.

“We need more police officers and we need police officers who are not from this area so they could turn it upside down,” said Nkomo.

thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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