Time of high tension

2016-10-25 06:00
Police from the Mitchells Plain cluster operation profiled suspects during their crime prevention operations in Hanover Park.  PHOTO: Chevon Booysen

Police from the Mitchells Plain cluster operation profiled suspects during their crime prevention operations in Hanover Park. PHOTO: Chevon Booysen

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Due to a spike in gang violence and a higher crime rate in the Hanover Park area, police conducted a cluster operation in the area last Wednesday.

Cameron Weldon, secretary of the Hanover Park Community Police Forum, says gang violence in the area “should not have been happening at all”.

“What happened is that one of the gang leaders in the area was released from prison recently and he has now made everyone feel his presence in the area by being dominant.

“Subsequently, he was shot and killed during a gambling game and since then – because of his rank [in the gang he belongs to] – the ‘gang rules’ dictate that they cannot just leave it like that. The person who shot him is still at large and since then there has been sporadic shootings in the area,” Weldon explains.

There has also been shooting injuries after two gang-related murders occurred in the area, he says.

“Retaliation is very likely because we can see there are coordinated efforts from the gangs’ side because they are being cooperative. The rivalry is currently between the Americans and the Mongrels,” he says.

Weldon says they are anxious, with tension running high in the area.

“We do not know what the next few days hold in store for us. Earlier today I heard gunshots at the terminus.

“The shooting won’t end. Not until someone significant, a high-risk individual, is shot in the Americans camp,” Weldon predicts.

He adds: “As a community we condemn the shootings. We do not condone it and we are highly upset and dissatisfied with it. We are happy with the visibility of police in the area and them following up on information. They are containing crime to a certain extent. These gangs have to be monitored closely.”

Weldon says he no longer lives in the area but works in the community every day.

“I get to go home and not hear the gunshots. I am privileged to get a break from it all, but what about the people left behind in the community who are not afforded this break? They are going through this day in and day out,” he says.

Deputy police cluster commander Brigadier Mmagautu Letsoalo says these police operations are taking place in gang-ridden areas where gang violence has flared up or is being contained.

“We have had these operations in Athlone and Steenberg recently and it was brought to Philippi now because of the gang violence in these areas. These operations will carry on well into the festive season,” she says.

“Our mandate is to ensure that the community we work in is safe. And this is our main priority while conducting these operations,” she says.

Letsoalo says the police are concentrating on finding drugs, weapons and firearms during these operations.

“We want to root out the gangs in our communities so that they are safe. We want people to give us information, we want to know where the firearms are,” she says.

Philippi police spokesperson Captain Lance Goliath confirms arrests were made for reckless and negligent driving, burglary, possession of drugs and an outstanding warrant of arrest.

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