MPs to discuss anti-gang strategy in wake of community protests

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Members of the Westbury community clash with police during a protest. (Stringer/AFP)
Members of the Westbury community clash with police during a protest. (Stringer/AFP)

Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Police will hold a special meeting on the South African Police Service's (SAPS) anti-gang strategy, the committee said on Wednesday.

"It is critical that endemic violent crime in communities should be dealt with [using] a comprehensive strategy – hence the meeting," chairperson Francois Beukman said in a statement.

According to the committee, the meeting is set for November 21 and will also look at the state of community policing in high-crime areas affected by gun violence.

ALSO READ: 'Where are they when the shootings happen? Look at all this police!' - Shutdown protester

Beukman said the announcement by Police Minister Bheki Cele of the re-establishment of a specialised anti-gang unit within the SAPS was significant and in line with the recommendations of the National Development Plan.

"The committee will utilise the meeting to get assurances from national police management that a sustainable strategy and operational plan is in place to deal with priority and contact crime in the affected areas," Beukman emphasised.

The specialised unit of the Hawks dealing with illegal firearms will also be invited to the briefing to give feedback on its efforts, he added.

Call for increase in police numbers, visibility

The meeting comes in the wake of weeks of protests on the Cape Flats in the Western Cape and Westbury in Johannesburg.

Residents of the affected areas were protesting against gang violence and related crimes that have plagued their communities for years.

Community members were calling for an increase in police numbers and visibility.

ALSO READ: Westbury: Under siege from drug lords and police

Protests broke out in Westbury shortly after an alleged gang shooting that resulted in the death of 45-year-old bystander Heather Petersen.

Last week, Cele visited the area and deployed a tactical response team to the streets of the crime-ridden suburb to stabilise rising tensions.

On Monday, News24 reported that police spokesperson Kay Makhubele had said in a statement that eight people were arrested in a joint intelligence operation on Friday night.

Makhubele said four of the suspects would face charges related to the murder of 31-year-old Bradley Saul, killed in July this year. Saul was apparently accused of killing the son of one of the suspects.

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