It's 'war' on the Cape Flats as gang-related death toll mounts

2019-02-28 08:10
The Anti-gang Unit was launched in Cape Town on November 2, 2018. The Western Cape has the highest rate of gang violence in South Africa. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

The Anti-gang Unit was launched in Cape Town on November 2, 2018. The Western Cape has the highest rate of gang violence in South Africa. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

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Two months into 2019, the death toll for the year in Bonteheuwel rose to 18 after a 26-year-old man died from "a gunshot wound to the upper body" on Tuesday, according to police.

A case of murder and attempted murder is being investigated, said Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana of the South African Police Service (SAPS), GroundUp reports.

"We are calling it the war in our back streets," said community leader Henriette Abrahams.

Since Christmas, Bonteheuwel has seen a spate of incidents related to gang violence.

"It's a drug turf war," said Abrahams. Gangs are fighting to broaden their turf and they are "pulling in children to do their dirty work".

Over the last month in Mitchells Plain, 25 people have died in what also appears to be gang-related violence. The Mitchells Plain precinct has the second-highest number of reported crimes in South Africa.

Read: Fears of escalating gang violence after man killed, 3 injured in Cape Town shooting

On Tuesday evening, a consultative meeting to discuss safety was held with the Mitchells Plain community, its leaders, members of the Mitchells Plain Community Policing Forum (CPF), SAPS and Correctional Services. The meeting was chaired by Lennit Max, police minister Bheki Cele's special adviser. About 70 people attended the meeting.

"Currently we are living in fear," said Byron de Villiers, chairperson of the Lentegeur CPF.

"We're calling it a war, because that's what it is."

Basil Coetzee, a community activist, said the community should move from criminal justice to "people's justice".

Coetzee said the current justice system favours criminals. He said police should be rotated in the various areas.

"When gangsters are on first-name terms with police officers, I worry," he said. "It's a relationship that should not be there."

Read more on:    cape town  |  gang violence  |  crime
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