'We can't take it anymore' - Bonteheuwel pastor amid rising gang tensions

Magistrate's court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
Magistrate's court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Concerned Bonteheuwel residents have decided to work with the police and local government departments in an effort to help rid the area of the damaging drug trade they say has fuelled gang violence.

Community members, NGOs and members of local government met on Friday to discuss the issues and rising tensions in the area following a month of violence that has claimed at least six lives.

Hundreds of residents took to the nearby streets on Wednesday, protesting at various intersections against gang activity and violence. A man was shot and killed in an alleged taxi war at one of the intersections last weekend.

"The community is at a place where we are so tired of the violence that we are willing to stand together and say we can't take it anymore," said Bonteheuwel Baptist church Pastor Llewellyn Clayton after the community meeting on Friday.

"I think we're going to get there. It [the problem] is huge, enormous, because of the social ills, but at least we have been meeting and talking."

He said the protest against crime and gangsterism, and a demand for a police station on Wednesday made people feel a little better because they were at least doing something about the problem.

READ: Three protesters arrested in Bishop Lavis while calling for extra police to fight crime

They were going to try and gather addresses of known drug houses and take the problem up with the owners of the properties, or, if they are owned by the council, address it with the council.

"It's a big business these drugs, they are fighting literally over roads and different streets because it can make them 10 to R20 000 a day," said Clayton, explain some of the causes of the crime that is leaving residents fed up and afraid.

DA councillor Angus McKenzie, who was also present, said an action plan has been put in place.

"The issues of gang violence cannot solely be addressed by an individual, however it will take a united effort to overcome the challenges and this was illustrated in the manner in which the meeting was conducted and finished. Bonteheuwel is united!" said McKenzie.

He said the organisations which attended the meeting included Bluegum Walking Ladies, Bonteheuwel Youth Soccer, Ozzies, Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies, Bonteheuwel Informal Traders, Neighbourhood Watch, Concerned Residents, the Community Policing Forum and various religious leaders.

Meanwhile, three people were arrested on Wednesday during the protests, and were due to appear in the Bishop Lavis Magistrate's Court to face charges under the Gatherings Act.

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