POLICE have said that gaining support and trust from the communities in gang-stricken areas is key in arresting suspects and confiscating illegal firearms and drugs. One of the strategies implemented by the Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen. Liziwe Ntshinga, is to step up deployments in the northern areas in efforts to stabilise the ongoing gang violence which is plaguing the communities of Gelvandale and Bethelsdorp.“Since December 2018, the National Intervention Unit (NIU) and Tactical Response Team (TRT) from the provincial office were assigned to the hot-spot areas of Gelvandale and Bethelsdorp,” explained SAPS spokesperson, Colonel Priscilla Naidu. “Additional deployments from NIU and the Special Task Force (Pretoria) joined their counterparts in February 2019. These teams are concentrating on curbing the gang-related incidents in the northern areas.” Naidu said that since their deployments, these operational intervention teams had succeeded in recovering firearms, rounds of ammunition and drugs. “Several arrests were effected and high density patrols and visibility in these areas are making a significant impact. These arrests are over and above the arrests and confiscations effected by members of both stations,” Naidu said.Apart from vigorous policing in these areas, the team has also succeeded in interacting with the youth on a social platform. Members engage in friendly sporting activities such as soccer with the teenagers in nearby open fields in Bethelsdorp and Helenvale where police Casspirs are strategically positioned to monitor the activities in Extensions 31, 32 and 33 (Bethelsdorp) and Helenvale on a 24-hour basis. “Prior to stationing these heavy armoured vehicles, these open fields were hot-spots for gang activities and robberies. This exercise most certainly received the green light and overwhelming approval from the community. “Engaging with communities at their level is a step closer to winning the war on gangsterism in these areas,” Naidu said. The SAPS has vowed to continue to intensify their actions until the area has stabilised and the communities are safe.