Reinforcements confirmed

2016-04-19 06:00

Police have confirmed that gangs are deploying their own reinforcements into areas where the current gang war is taking place.

The upsurge in gang violence regarding territory started in Tambo Village on Thursday 31 March between the Hard Livings and Dixie Boys gangs in the area.

According to Lieutenant Ian Bennett, spokesperson for Manenberg police, the gang conflict continued and affected the other gangs, namely the Americans and the Clever Kids, which compounded the situation into a full scale gang war.

Police have since beefed up their presence in the area along with the help from the City of Cape Town’s stabilisation unit to focus on areas notorious for gang activity. However, the situation has escalated to the point that the gangs themselves have also called for their own reinforcements, with Bennett confirming that arrests have taken place whereby the suspects – all known gang members – do not hail from the immediate area.

“There are people who are being arrested and brought in for questioning who have come from outside the Manenberg area. There is nothing that we can do about that, because then we will be violating people’s constitutional rights in terms of freedom of movement,” says Bennett.

He urged community members to call them on any of the emergency numbers if they see any suspicious people who are not from the area, in order for them to respond and deal with the situation. “Anybody with information that leads to the successful arrests and confiscation of firearms will be rewarded financially.”

Meanwhile, in a provincial police address to the media last week, Major General Jeremy Veary said police have stepped up efforts in monitoring communication between prison gangs and those found on the outside.

“We have picked up and have had successes in that (social media) terrain in the use of Facebook, in the use of WhatsApp and those things are there for being looked at.”

He went on to say that using information obtained on a social platform would not always be enough in order to affect a conviction.

Western Cape police commissioner, Major General Khombinkosi Jula, also addressed fears that police resources are being stretched, saying that the issue is “receiving a note of attention and is being taken very seriously”. “We know that it is not going to be possible to have police who will be available in all places at the same time. It is for that reason that we have an integrated approach. We are mobilising the community, we are mobilising the Metro Police, we are mobilising the CPF, a number of other stakeholders and even the churches to work together.”

Jula says various operations within the area will be ongoing and that the deployment of provincial forces in the area will assist in reassembling a high-risk task team, which will be on hand for future and additional interventions.

The issue of harbouring gang members was also a hot topic amongst the police, with Bennett reiterating that those who are not gang members, but are found to be assisting them, will be dealt with in the harshest possible manner. He confirmed there have been two arrests where community members could not account for their legally licensed firearms, only to have those firearms retrieved from known gang members.

“People should not criminalise themselves by thinking they are doing other people a favour by lending out or renting out their firearms, or harbouring people who have been involved in criminal activity. If they do this and they are found by us, they must not expect any leniency from the police,” Bennett says.

Manenberg Safety Forum (MSF) chairperson Roegshanda Pascoe says despite the stabilisation unit being sent into the area, it is still not enough. “The unit needs to take a proactive approach. They only respond after shootings have taken place. The gangs are clever and are causing diversions to throw the stabilisation unit off course as well.”

She explains diversions are caused when gangs shoot in one part of Manenberg but the “real threat is then caused on another end after the police and unit responds to where the shooting occurs”. Pascoe says although peace talks were held on Sunday, “this is to get the unit out of the area”.

“Gangs do not want police in the area because it doesn’t allow them to continue with their activity. So now after the talks were held people are happy but they are being lured into a false sense of security,” Pascoe says. “This can be very dangerous because even after the talks last night, one could still hear shots being fired right through Manenberg. “

Pascoe says she also fears for vulnerable children during this time. “When these gangs go quiet it’s then that they are recruiting because they lost many men during this time. This is why it is so important for us to host the upcoming imbizo on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 May,” she says.

A venue for the imbizo was set to still be confirmed by the time of going to print.

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