Anti-gang unit launch to be in Hanover Park where volunteer was gunned down

Western Cape police commissioner Khombinkosi Jula, Police Minister Bheki Cele and Western Cape Deputy Commissioner of Crime Detection, Jeremy Vearey in Hanover Park (Jenni Evans  News24)
Western Cape police commissioner Khombinkosi Jula, Police Minister Bheki Cele and Western Cape Deputy Commissioner of Crime Detection, Jeremy Vearey in Hanover Park (Jenni Evans News24)

A new anti-gang unit has started working in the Western Cape and is expected to be officially launched in Hanover Park, Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Monday.

Hanover Park is the suburb in Cape Town where 19-year-old Gift of the Givers volunteer Amierodeen Noordien was gunned down in gang crossfire.

"You will be the first ones to say to them: 'Hello anti-gang unit'," Cele told a packed tent outside Noordien's parents' home where his funeral was supposed to take place.

The funeral was expected to have taken place after Cele's visit to his mother Fatima, father Moegamad, sister Shabiega and brother Shackick. But it has been delayed by a backlog at the mortuary.

Noordien was shot multiple times outside a shop 62 paces away from his home on Friday night.

He had just returned from a disaster relief trip to the Eastern Cape to drop cattle feed off to struggling farmers on Friday night. Up to four people are understood to have been wounded.

Noordien was also part of a Gift of the Givers programme aimed at helping people living in some of Cape Town's impoverished and crime-ridden suburbs to avoid being sucked into crime.

READ: 'He did not hear them shout 'Run!'' – Mourners gather for funeral of Gift of the Givers volunteer

"He was a very good boy," Cele told Noordien's mother, who is not well, on Monday. "He was a gem."

Cele said his aim was to create a society where it would be normal and safe for children and adults to walk safely, and for children to play in the streets at night again. The gang unit would be a component of this.

The unit of 95 officers was already on the ground. Just its official launch function still has to take place.

After listening to some residents complain that the police only came in their masses when a government minister was visiting, or after a shooting, Cele announced that he had decided that the launch function would be held in Hanover Park.

He urged people to give the specially trained unit officers lists of names of known gangsters and drug dealers so that they could be tracked down and arrested.

"These gangsters come from our own houses," he said.

This had been successful in Westbury, Johannesburg, after last week's protests that followed the fatal shooting of Heather Petersen, also in gang crossfire.

READ: Westbury mother killed in gang crossfire buried

Cele said police were given a list of 20 names of known gangsters and drug dealers in Westbury, and that some have already been arrested so far.

The unit would work "tight" to make sure the National Prosecuting Authority gets a strong case to take to court, he explained.

The minister added that another initiative, Operation Thunder, had already been launched and was well under way. Families there have already reported that their neighbourhoods have become safer.

It should be the norm for women to be able to walk safely in the street and for children to play safely in the street after dark.

"Children are not chickens that must be locked up after 18:00."

He urged people to not politicise the bid to root gangsters and drug dealers out.

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