Opposition to gangs

2019-07-09 06:00
One of many groups of residents who braved the cold, rainy weather to express themselves against gangsterism. PHOTO: SIPHESIHLE NOTWABAZA

One of many groups of residents who braved the cold, rainy weather to express themselves against gangsterism. PHOTO: SIPHESIHLE NOTWABAZA

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Residents, young and old blocked entrances into Hanover Park, singing “Ons is gatvol” in a quest to raise their concerns about gangsterism in the area.

As they took to the streets on Wednesday 3 July, irate residents claimed gangs have taken over the ownership of the area.

One of the protest organisers Mansorer Arendse said, as residents, they have had enough of the gangsters. He claimed they terrorise everyone in the area.

He said they did not ask for anyone’s go-ahead for the protest, but they want the national minister of police Bheki Cele to attend to the “urgent matter of gangsterism”.

“We are also doing this to get the attention of the police to improve availability and visibility in the area,” explained Arendse.

He said they will stage more and more protests until they see that there is a difference in terms of crime or they get the attention they are seeking.

Residents said the march was not just about them but their children. They said children have become prisoners in their own area.

According to them, they have to be indoors as early as 17:00 because shootings just erupt without warning and innocent people die daily.

Veronica Paulse, a resident, recounted how she lost her husband last year and 29-year-old grandson two years ago.

Her grandson was shot while on his way to visit his girlfriend, while her husband was killed on his way to the clinic.

“My husband went to the clinic to fetch my medication, he came back to eat because it was full there, when he went back he was shot,” remembered Paulse. She alleged her sweetheart was killed by gangsters and a case of murder was opened.

According to her, the case never bore any fruits and that the perpetrators are still roaming the streets. Without disclosing much about the case, she said lack of witnesses contributed to the case not bringing the killer to book.

“One of the problems in this area is that people are afraid to speak even if they saw something. They fear for their safety,” she explained.

She said she is heartbroken because her husband was a community man and that he did not deserve to die the way he did. She said the protest is also for those who passed on, that they are not forgotten and it does not have to stay like this.

Joining in the strike were taxi drivers even though they had some complaints.

Rasheed Abrahams, a taxi driver, said they are just as sick and tired of crime in the area but lashed out at the organisers for not consulting them about the strike.

He said the strike, in a way, is threatening the same mothers who get robbed by gangsters in the morning. He used the example of reported intimidation that happened. According to him, some women were instructed to get out of a taxi by striking members of the community.

“Yes, mothers and fathers are getting mugged in the mornings when they go to work.

“We witness it every day but we were never consulted about this hence our taxis are operating,” said Abrahams.

He said they felt they were treated as uneducated people and they wish for another protest but with proper planning that includes involving them in the planning stage.

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