‘No benefit’ from army in Lavender Hill

2019-08-20 06:00
After consoling the family of slain Steenberg officer, Donavan Prins who was killed in Lavender Hill, the minister of police, Bheki Cele launched Operation Lockdown to rid gang-infested areas of crime, but has not sent reinforcement to Lavender Hill. PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

After consoling the family of slain Steenberg officer, Donavan Prins who was killed in Lavender Hill, the minister of police, Bheki Cele launched Operation Lockdown to rid gang-infested areas of crime, but has not sent reinforcement to Lavender Hill. PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

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Since deploying the army to the crime-ridden areas of Cape Town, the minister of police has reported more than 1 000 criminals arrested – but residents of Lavender Hill have begun to think the government has forgotten about them.

Minister Bheki Cele, at a briefing in Mitchell’s Plain on Monday 12 August, revealed that the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to enforce Operation Lockdown has yielded the arrests of 1 004 murderers, hijackers and armed robbers since 18 July.

Unfortunately, the weekend running from 9 to 11 August saw the killings of a number of people – a total of 47, reportedly the highest number of deaths in Cape Town since the deployment of the army to help eradicate crime.

In the past three weeks, Retreat and Lavender Hill residents have been uneasy about the three murders by shooting and the one attempted murder. However, there has been mixed emotions about the deployment of the army in the area.

Hillview resident, Terence Jonas asks: “Where is the army? The army has no experience dealing with the crime in each specific area. I feel that the army should be there to assist and support the police, and not to do roadblocks on the weekends.

“They are doing roadblocks in Bonteheuwel, Bishop Lavis, Philippi and Manenberg. The main areas are Lavender Hill, Overcome Heights and Hillview,” Jonas says in frustration.

He adds that eradicating the community of crime should start at home.

“The council must get involved. When law enforcement searches a house and finds guns or drugs, they must arrest the people in the house and take the house away. There are people on long waiting lists for houses – close the house where the crime is happening and give it to someone who needs it,” he suggests, adding that by posing this threat in crime-ridden communities, relatives of criminals will be forced to expose them in efforts to keep their homes.

Some residents, however, do not feel that deploying the army in the area will help to ease gang tensions.

Seawinds resident, Mona Bishop said: “It’s everyday shooting here. We can hear it from here, whether it’s Hillview or Overcome or Lavender Hill. From early morning, past three to the evening, to the afternoon when children are coming back from school.

“I don’t think we are even interested in the army coming here. Even when the police is here, the gangsters shoot at them.”

Another Seawinds resident, Patty Abrahams emphasises that the crime that takes place occurs without fear of the law and at any time during the week. “I was once in a crossfire. They were shooting there by the flats and I had to run into someone’s house. On Saturday I went to Shepherd’s Court and they were shooting at 09:00 in the morning. I had to stay there until the shooting was over, until the police came,” she said.

Bishop adds that she has no faith in the defence force, stating there will be “no benefit from the army” in their crime-ridden community. Despite the position of residents for or against the army carrying out operations in Lavender Hill, all are in agreement that something must be done to make the community safer.V To report a crime contact Steenberg police on 021 702 9000.

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