WCape Education MEC demands answers on promised gang unit

2017-06-01 18:26
Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schafer. (Deon Raath, Netwerk24)

Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schafer. (Deon Raath, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - Police Minister Fikile Mbalula must explain why the Western Cape still does not have the gang units it was promised two years ago, Education MEC Debbie Schafer said on Thursday.

''In 2015, Minister Nathi Nhleko made a public commitment to bring back the specialised gang units within the South African Police Service (SAPS),'' said Schafer.

''Yet two years later, the recent flare up of gang violence in Lavender Hill has brought a desperate community to its knees. While learners were unable to travel to and from school without fear of being shot in the cross fire between rival gangs, parents turned to schools to show their distress,'' said Schafer of a fraught period for pupils and teachers.

Schafer's plea came after Mbalula's opening of a mobile police office in Elsies River last Thursday, and the expected handover of another one in Gugulethu on Friday by the deputy, Bongani Mkongi as the two round off a charm offensive in troubled suburbs.

Last week shots were heard being fired near three schools in Lavender Hill, and by Wednesday morning, some parents had locked the school gates to stop anybody from entering.

READ: Lavender Hill schools reopen after gang gun battle clampdown

Traumatised

By Monday, four schools were officially closed just to be safe and pupils of Lavender Hill High School, Levana Primary School, Hillwood Primary School and Prince George Primary School fell behind in their work.

Police spokesperson FC Van Wyk said violence erupted on May 22 between three rival gangs in the Steenberg area.

"This forced teachers and learners not to go to schools for fear of their safety," he explained.

The shootings took place when pupils travelled to and from school and although they were not targeted, the pupils and teachers were terrified as they moved between their homes and school.

Schools reopened on Wednesday with catch up programmes being organised, but Schafer said the parents and families are traumatised because they do not know if their children will be killed.

In Elsies River, rising soccer enthusiast Fernando Williams was among three people killed and 10 injured in a shooting on May 1.

''It is quite evident that SAPS is not adequately resourced to effectively function. Based on the latest stats, the Western Cape is the most under-resourced province in South Africa with around 85% of our stations being under-staffed.

''How do you protect and serve the people of the Western Cape when only 15% of police stations are properly capacitated?''

She praised police for their co-operation in the province, and said they were doing their utmost. However, they cannot protect the province by themselves.

''The police need to be resourced and properly trained to deal with these very serious issues in communities such as Lavender Hill.''

Comment on the gang units was not immediately available from Mbalula or the acting commissioner of police.

Read more on:    debbie schafer  |  fikile mbalula  |  cape town  |  education  |  crime

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