Together against gangs and drugs

2018-10-23 06:02
Lotus River residents came out in their numbers to take a stand against gangsterism, trafficking and drugs.

Lotus River residents came out in their numbers to take a stand against gangsterism, trafficking and drugs.

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Residents of Lotus River and Grassy Park turned out in their droves to stand up against gangsterism, human trafficking and drugs on Saturday 13 October.
A human chain was formed from Fifth Avenue and into Strandfontein Road.

“The turnout was awesome. The count that I got was well over 1000 people. Our next one which we are planning already is going to be for a bigger capacity. I need to tell the residents of Lotus River ‘thank you’. They jumped on board and they weren’t scared. That is what we said – that we are taking Lotus River back, because of all the gangsterism and child trafficking happening all over. We just made a decision as ward 65, the Lotus River area, that it starts with us,” says Patricia van der Ross, ward 65 councillor.

Shanaaz Sulaiman-Davids, chairperson of Ottery NHW/safety watch, says the event was peaceful.

“In terms of the human chain this past Saturday, the chain was very peaceful; young and old came out to support the drive for a crime-free community. The chain then moved down Fifth Avenue into Strandfontein Road where the front lines decided to walk through the areas most infected with the gangs. They walked through the dog pounds, Eland Street and other streets of which I do not even know the names and considered myself lost, but kept walking and taking pics whilst they were chanting ‘we want peace, no more crime, stop the killings’. The huge group broke off into several smaller pockets trying to cover as much area as possible whilst some were still part of the chain standing in Fifth Avenue,” she says.

While a few community organisations threatened to unsettle proceedings, Van der Ross says the event was held in the interests of the community and that the issues raised in order to have the event were not politically motivated.

“We had a lot of support and the day just went fluently. There were no hiccups. Opposition parties came in and that is fine; ultimately we asked them to support us because it was non-political because it was the community standing up for what they feel and we feel as I am also a resident of the community. What we feel is that we need to take our area back. We are not even looking at that (politics) because we put a stop to that immediately,” she says.

Van der Ross adds that she addressed the different leaders at the event and says they agreed that the event would be non-political.

“The point we wanted to prove is that what we are doing in Lotus River, everyone else can do in their different wards so that these elements can see that the people are affected. When people keep quiet then nobody will know anything. Ultimately we made our mark and this is not the last one because we have another one planned,” she says.

While there is a tentative date planned for the next anti-crime event, nothing can be confirmed without authorisation.

“We are waiting on confirmation because we are doing it the right way. We are following the processes. Nothing is illegal that we are doing. Once our application comes back and it is approved then we will announce the date,” says Van der Ross.

She says residents have started different WhatsApp groups where various issues are discussed and brought forward to resolve.

“If the community feels that there are issues which need to be addressed, they will put it on the group and they will come to the office. The community knows that we have to work with the police in order to get this whole issue resolved somewhat. Thank you again to Lotus River. You have made me so proud. I did not expect the outcome and I am grateful that the community has started to stand up.”

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