A “fragile and new” peace agreement has been brokered for the greater Hazendal area in the last week.
Bokmakierie and the greater Hazendal area have been dogged by gang violence and shootings for most of the year.
Aziza Kannemeyer, chairperson of the Athlone Community Policing Forum, says the area is now quiet after being the scene of daily shootouts between rival gangs.
“Bokmakierie has seen shooting on a daily basis. It meant that people did not have freedom of movement, because there was a risk of being shot irrespective of day or time – whether you came from school, work, church or mosque. They would just go ahead and shoot,” she says.
She says the gangs have come to the realisation that it would be better to have a peace arrangement between them.
“It was the desire of the community, but the approach came from the different groupings who asked us for assistance and intervention. We are quite happy with the fact that people can walk freely again, but we are always cautiously optimistic that anything can spark and throw us spiralling backwards again, because it is fragile, it is new and there is still a bit of tension in the air,” says Kannemeyer.
Renewed tensions have sparked violence in Kewtown (see page 1), with those across the road in Bokmakierie paying close attention, including Kannemeyer.
“With what is happening in Kewtown now, we just hope that it doesn’t spill over and involve those groupings within our area, because then that peace arrangement is going to fall flat,” she says.
She adds that it will take time for the new arrangement to permeate the area as everyone in the area is still on tenterhooks.
“[The agreement] is fragile and it is new. There isn’t that huge trust that has crept in the relationship [yet]. People are still watching each other and cautious of one another, but they are freely moving up and down.
“The community is very happy, but how long it will remain in place is entirely up to them. How badly they want it to work, is up to them.”