Magistrates’ courts across the Western Cape have recently been serving gang members, and their leaders, lengthy jail sentences for their crimes, say local police. Recently, the Western Cape High Court sentenced a 40-year-old man from Heideveld to life imprisonment for a murder he committed in Longkloof Circle in July last year.Garent Desmond Paulse received his second life sentence last week, after being found guilty of contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. In a statement, Manenberg Police Station’s spokesperson, Captain Ian Bennett, says the sentence breaks the backbone of a gang in Heideveld that long ruled the community with fear.“Paulse was sentenced to five years, running concurrently (with the life imprisonment), and was convicted and sentenced separately from his co-accused Fadiel Johnson. Johnson was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment [in a plea bargain] for murder and attempted murder, which happened in Longkloof Circle on Saturday 1 July 2017.“They (the accused) fired several shots in a drive-by shooting, from a bakkie, at members of an opposing gang before fleeing the scene.”Bennett says detectives worked around the clock to bring justice to the community.“Paulse has held the residents of Heideveld in the grip of fear since 2004, when he emerged as a gang leader, contributing directly to all murders and attempted murders in the area. “He has finally been brought to book and the criminal walls came tumbling down on him, in another life sentence.” Upon hearing the news, residents of Heideveld said they are relieved and happy with the sentence handed down to what they call “one of the community’s most dangerous men”. While Manenberg Police Station’s gang task team detectives hail the sentence as the final nail in the coffin for Paulse’s life as a gang leader, residents in the area are still living in fear.“This is great news. We have been living in fear for too long. Innocent people were affected by activities run under his leadership. People were even scared to walk out of their front door,” says resident John Manuel (57).“We have heard the news of his life sentence, but it does not mean that bad things are ending for this community. There are still members from this gang roaming the streets, as well as other gangs operating in the area.”Ryan May (43) says children and women in the area are still targeted by gang members from the community, and that of the neighbouring Manenberg area.“I am an ex-gang member. I know how things work. “Taking down a leader does not mean things will become better for our people. Life will continue with gang activities.“Police need to break down the entire gang leadership. Remove them from the area and lock them away for good, with life sentences. They return to our communities after being given short jail time, only to commit murders again.”Bennett encouraged the community to see the sentence as a victory in the fight against crime in rooting out gangs and ensuring that communities are safe, and to also see it as creating trust-building partnerships with Manenberg police.“This should be a clear sign that crime does not pay and it is not a life for our youth,” he adds.