Talking to gangs won't help - police

2012-08-21 22:18
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Cape Town - The legitimacy and effectiveness of peace talks with gangs was called into question in Parliament on Tuesday.

Briefing the portfolio committee on police, civilian police secretariat director of policy development Mark Rogers said such negotiations posed a problem.

"We're negotiating with the wrong people. They have no street cred [credibility] among present gang members."

He cited November 2011 talks in Hanover park that failed to yield results.

At the time, Western Cape Community Safety MEC Dan Plato witnessed and supported gang bosses pledging peace to community members.

"Seven months after the peace talks, the gang violence flared up again," said Rogers.

Plato has supported community talks with both former and current gang bosses, and has said police should be doing the same.

Rogers said attempting to engage with current gangsters was also not an option.

"We're having peace talks with people that should be arrested. The negotiations are flawed. The perception is also created that the gangs would also then expect peace from the SA Police Service."

He said this was a completely unacceptable way of dealing with the gang problem.

"Are these peace treaties implementable? Who holds them accountable?" he asked.

Rogers' boss, police secretary Jenni Irish-Qhobosheane, agreed, saying the Hanover Park and Lavender Hill talks had failed, and in fact led to an escalation of violence.

Intelligence driven

Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer reiterated that the police were in no way involved in any peace talks between gangs.

"We're totally against that," he said.

Lamoer could not account for details of the police strategy to combat the gang problem, as this was mostly intelligence driven.

Many MPs accepted this as the meeting was open and sensitive details of operations could reach gangsters.

Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard was unimpressed.

"They're trying to sing a song that in the final analysis is not true. They're saying everything is intelligence driven when we know crime intelligence is in total chaos."

Gang shootings in Hanover Park, Lavender Hill and other areas in the Peninsula have claimed the lives of dozens of people the past few months.

During the same period, several children have been killed or injured in the crossfire.

- SAPA

Read more on:    police  |  cape town  |  narcotics
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