‘Nowhere to hide’

2018-11-06 06:02
Premiere of the Western Cape Helen Zille opened up the ceremony on Friday.PHOTOS: AISHAH CASSIEM

Premiere of the Western Cape Helen Zille opened up the ceremony on Friday.PHOTOS: AISHAH CASSIEM

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Downsberg Sports Field in Hanover Park was packed to capacity with more than 3000 people on Friday morning when president Cyril Ramaphosa and minister of police, General Bheki Cele, announced the official launch of the national Anti-Gang Unit.

The president and the police minister first embarked on a walkabout in the community before proceeding with the launch, where they spoke to several parents and youth pained by daily gang violence in the area.

The six-hour ceremony was attended by several religious and community organisations, who sat in the presence of police, traffic officials and all Law Enforcement agencies.

Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, who opened the ceremony alongside national police commissioner, General Khehla Sitole, were among government leaders present to give input on the project, on stage.

Ramaphosa said the aim of the Anti-Gang Unit is to weaken and immobilise all gangs on the Cape Flats and to remove all drug and firearm merchandise linked to the operating gangs.

“It is a priority for the country’s prosecution and law enforcement authorities to ensure that all gang activities are stopped, and are disrupted.

“This is why we launched the national anti-gang unit strategy, which has been crafted by the minister of police and his top management,” explained Ramaphosa.

“The strategy that will be used in this project was approved by the cabinet of this country and integrated a holistic approach to tackle gangsterism on a society level. This project is a community-based strategy with the focus of a street-level outreach, community development, conflict mediation and that of changing community norms in order to reduce violence and criminality.”

Ramaphosa spoke to many parents in Hanover Park, who said that their children are gangsters and are living in their homes – they wanted help and did not know what to do, he said.

“Many of their (parents’) children were also not in school because of what is happening in this community. They (children) are scared to go to school because they are scared of what will happen.

“But I am telling you today that your children will go to school safely because we have brought all these policemen and women here to tackle this issue.

“I know that this is something that was supposed to happen a long time ago, but we are here now, and we are bringing it to you (today).”
He said gangsters in the community should be warned and should start running.

“We are not prepared to be intimidated. When we say as a community we will not be silent, then criminals and gangsters will run. The launch of this unit against gangsterism should give us strength.”

He urged the community to work with the police by pointing out any gang activity, anonymously, and said that he is working on a plan to get funds for more volunteers to assist.

“We believe that if the community can stand together with the police, then gangsters will know that they (community) are the eyes and ears of the police.

“They will know that the community is now looking at everything they are doing and they (gangsters) will fear that the police will be called.
“Even if it is a member of your own family, do this quietly, by reporting to the police. We are working on a good strategy for this too.”

“These gangs are robbing you of your safety, security, peace and even of your piece of mind. But above all they are robbing you of your children,” he told parents in the crowd.

“Many of your children have been raped and killed because of these gangsters and you have seen and felt the pain. Innocent lives have been lost and (today), by launching this unit, we are putting a stop to it.

“We declare to the gangsters that we are not afraid of you – in fact we are coming after you and we are going to chase you until we find you, to take our lives back. Our police are coming for you, our men and women in blue will arrest you and put you where you belong, behind bars,” added Ramaphosa.

Fifty brand new cars, including M14Gi BMWs, were handed over to police detectives who will use them to operate efficiently in the targeted areas.
The cars are of the latest models, with the intent to chase and catch criminals. The Anti-Gang Unit consists of members of specialised units including the local police, Law Enforcement, Correctional Services officers and civilians, who have been operational since last month.
The unit has been targeting several areas, including Bishop Lavis, Manenberg and Hanover Park, and will continue to be in full operation until communities across the Cape Flats experience safer and easier living conditions without fear of gang violence, the authorities have assured. 


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