New officers LEAP into action

The Hanover Park Drill Squad.
The Hanover Park Drill Squad.

In continued efforts to restore calm to Hanover Park amid a suspected drug turf war between rival gangs, the City of Cape Town, in partnership with the provincial department of community safety (DOCS), has deployed 58 learner law enforcement officers to the area.

The learner officers will be accompanied by seven inspectors and a senior inspector and will be stationed in the area for the next two years.

The initiative was relaunched on Friday 16 October after deployment on Monday 12 October. The deployment was accompanied by a pamphlet drive, foot patrols and vehicle check points.

But this could be further extended, says provincial minister, Albert Fritz.

The deployment will be accompanied by a range of crime and violence prevention interventions aimed at halving the murder rate in the province over the next 10 years.

Fritz, who is originally from Hanover Park, says the officers should be seen as positive role models in the area that inspire young boys and girls to move toward positive careers instead of toward gangsterism.

“Sometimes the children in Hanover Park have no choices to make. Let us create the option for them to make choices,” says Fritz.

“I particularly wish to welcome the 60 officers appointed through the Western Cape Safety Plan who have since quelled the latest spate of gang-related violence in Hanover Park. ’

“The learner law enforcement officers have been deployed to assist police in a joint operation. It must be noted that violence and gangsterism has no place in our society and we do not tolerate or condone it. I have called on residents to report known criminal elements who disrupt the safety of their community,” says Fritz.

The officers form part of the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP), a joint initiative between the City’s safety and security directorate and the Western Cape provincial government.

The plan will ultimately see the deployment of 500 officers into the ranks of the City’s enforcement agencies.

This is a process which had run earlier this year, but has since been halted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The officers have already made an impact in the areas where they have been deployed and we are confident that this programme will continue to help keep communities safer,” says Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith.

Gangsterism was never the mandate of any other security agency beside police, however, the great impact it has on the communities prompted action on a provincial and city level, officials say.

Chad Lewis (30), who has been living in the area for all his life, says the deployment is the best thing for the area as “more police is more safety”.

Lewis has experienced the impact of gang violence first hand.

“(Earlier this year) I was shot seven times. I still greeted the guy and next I heard ‘yay, hier staan een van hulle’. It was a drive-by and I was shot in (my abdomen) and buttocks as I ran away,” he says.

Antonio van der Rheede, the councillor for ward 47, says there should be nowhere for gangsters to turn.

“This is a good day for Hanover Park,” he says. “We have the right to be safe in our place but we need to develop an intolerance to gangsterism. We take too long to get angry. We know where the people are who are causing our children to get shot and we must become bold.”

He adds that acting station commander, Col Jacobus Fredericks, has also been doing great work in ridding the area of drugs and guns.

Smith encourages residents to call the City’s emergency call centre on 021 480 7700.

He says despite previous delays, this will be eliminated due to officers now stationed in the area.

Fritz thanked the volunteers and local police for their continued efforts.

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