Police extend helping hand

2016-03-08 10:54
Police members took to the streets last week to urge community members to help them fight gangsterism and drugs in the area. From left are Warrant Officer Wayne Koeberg, Captain Edward Bailey, Colonel Sanele Zama and Constable Hurem Louw.

Police members took to the streets last week to urge community members to help them fight gangsterism and drugs in the area. From left are Warrant Officer Wayne Koeberg, Captain Edward Bailey, Colonel Sanele Zama and Constable Hurem Louw. (Earl Haupt)

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Police took to the streets of Manenberg on Friday to spread the word about their efforts to quell the gang violence that has gripped the area in recent months.
Attacks on police members have become more common following flare-ups in a gang war after the festive period.

“We are busy dishing out the pamphlets and it is about the gang violence in the area, seeing that now at the moment it is very quiet and we would like to thank the public for that. If it was not for them, the place would not have been quiet at all.

“We will keep going on with this operation every week, because we are supposed to be doing it to reach the public and build the partnership between us and the community at large,” says Colonel Sanele Zama, acting commander of the Manenberg police station.

Although the cause of the flare-up in gang violence is not conclusively known, those not wanting to be named say that it is as a result of in-fighting in one of the area’s biggest gangs.

Police visited the area between Red River Road in the north and the Downs in the south to create renewed awareness and to thank community members for helping the police root out criminals who put their lives and livelihoods at risk.

Zama says the peace currently experienced in the area can be put down to peace talks held in the community as well as a march which was staged by some of the residents last week.

However, Zama is aware that the bond between the police and the community has to be strengthened.

“We must improve our partnerships so that we can gain the trust of the community. As we are amongst them, we will keep on doing what we are doing, being here and providing information to the community.”
Sandra Petersen, a resident of Rhone Walk, says police should also come to the party when dealing with complaints not relating to gang violence or drug-related activity.

“I called Manenberg police on Sunday and five more times after that and until today they have not come out to inspect the problem,” she said.

Petersen told police that she was a patient of Valkenberg Hospital and that due to her mental state, the police would have to intervene before she lost control and hurt someone. However, the domestic issue between her husband and the other person who was involved was eventually resolved before things came to the worst.
“If the police are there to help a person, then they also have to do their jobs by coming out to support us. They said that there was a gang fight, but I did not hear any gunshots and told them that there isn’t any gang fight. Even if it was a gang fight, they would still have to come out because that is their job.”

She says she wants to trust the police, but does not know what would restore that trust.
“The point is that if they do their work, they must do it properly. If people phone in and ask for help, they must come and must not let the person phone four or five times before they want to decide to come. If they want us to respect them or even [for us] to give them information about guns and drugs and all that, they must also work with the community.”
Angela Barnet, another resident, echoes Petersen’s views and says she also feels reluctant to engage with the police based on her past experiences.

“It would not be a problem for us to tell them about things and you don’t want your children to grow up in such an environment, but when they treat you like that, then how can you still trust them?”

When asked if police were too harsh in dealing with community members, Zama says it should not be the norm, but only in instances when a life is at risk.
“I do not think that we are too hard on them, but we cannot let the criminality take over the community. The police only act in such a harsh situation if they have to defend other people’s lives and also their own lives; that is when they must actually do that. It is not normal for us to do that. If it is quiet as it is now, then our approach will be a softer approach.”

Anyone with information regarding criminal activity can call Manenberg police station on 021 699 9400 or CrimeStop on 0860 010 111.

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