Locals are ‘gatvol’

2018-03-20 06:00
Residents block the road in an effort to hamper drive-by shootings.

Residents block the road in an effort to hamper drive-by shootings.

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“I lost my son in December. He was shot in these gang fights. It has been difficult for me to completely heal because every day someone is shot dead. There is no closure.”

These are the words of a heartbroken father and Hillview resident, speaking on condition of anonymity. He says too many innocent people have been shot dead as gangs continue to fight with one another over turf and a double-storey house they all want to occupy.

“I have so much anger inside me. I buried my son and since then I have been on the streets every day because someone has been shot. Of late the shootings in the area have gotten out of hand and no-one seems to care. I haven’t gone to work and I haven’t taken my children to school because I’m afraid. I don’t want to lose another child and if I go to work there are chances that I won’t come back alive because these gangsters decide to shoot anytime and anywhere. They have no respect. We have to keep our houses locked. We are living like prisoners in our own homes,” he says.

With no help from the police, he says the community now wants to take things into their own hands. “We went to Muizenberg Police Station to hear what the police are planning to do about the shootings, but they have nothing to bring to the table. We asked for police visibility and they told us they only have three vans. How are they going to work with three vans? Now the community wants to go into the streets and call for attention because this is a serious issue,” he says.

Over the last couple of weeks the area has been characterised by a sense of sadness and everything seems to be in a sombre mood following the shootings. For learners, seeing a dead body has become the norm, but residents say that what is happening is bad and they are scared. It is alleged that in the last two months, over 30 people have died with no help coming from those in power.

Another resident who prefers not to be named says they have knocked on several doors for help with no response. 

“We have been everywhere but no-one wants to listen. The office of community safety, our ward councillor ... we are even calling on the community policing forum cluster for help but everyone is turning a deaf ear. 

“People are dying here and no-one seems too concerned. We are scared to do anything. Now residents want to take to the streets to protest. There is nothing they can do because they are afraid and they want help and attention. Imagine our children seeing dead bodies each time they go to school. How are they supposed to learn?” she asks.

Muizenberg police spokesperson, Captain Stephen Knapp, says that as the police they have visibly targeted top gang activities and they are doing all they can to intervene in the situation. 

“We do have 24-hour deployments in the area just to monitor gang activities but unfortunately we can’t be at every corner all the time.” 
“We are calling on the community to also help us and give us the relevant information to follow,” he says.

Knapp adds that they can’t do it alone and there are instances where the police have come under threat. 

“There are times when our vans have been stoned and police officers attacked so it becomes really difficult to do our work as we have come under threat. 

We can’t do this alone – we want communities to work with us. In terms of the numbers I can’t give out a lot but we have had successes and we are not giving up the fight.”

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