Eight weeks into lockdown and gang violence in Tafelsig has escalated.
About seven shootings in the area were reported to police – five fatalities and two injuries – between Mother’s Day, Sunday May 10, and Saturday May 16.
Eight people were also shot in Giant Castle Cresent in Tafelsig yesterday, Tuesday May 19, at 9am.
Police say the national lockdown regulations to curb the spread of Covid-19 has unfortunately also hampered a national police led government project to address crimes in the area such as gang violence.
In December last year crime-fighting bodies in Mitchell’s Plain accepted national police commissioner Lieutenant General Khehla John Sithole’s challenge to implement a normalisation plan “to end crime” and to kickstart implementation of the national youth crime prevention strategy (“Call for pilot project in the ’Plain”, Plainsman, December 18 2019) .
The challenge was put to them in Oudekloof Street in Tafelsig, where Ayesha Kelly, 10, died when a stray bullet struck her in her back, as rival gangs opened fire on Sunday December 9.
Mitchell’s Plain police station commander Brigadier Cass Goolam told the Plainsman that the Covid-19 lockdown had halted the almost five-month-old project, which was making progress.
He said as part of the project, programmes were implemented but were restricted by the regulations imposed by the pandemic, which resulted in government partners diverting their resources and energies elsewhere.
“Furthermore our civilian partners are under lockdown. The thinking would be that these projects would continue once things are deemed conducive, depending on the Disaster Management Regulations.”
He said since the halting of the project, the shootings have escalated in the area.
“The problem can be addressed but it cannot be done so in the absence of the community.
“The situation is further complicated by alignment of certain pockets of the community with gang elements for benefit,” he told the Plainsman.
Brigadier Goolam said parents were among their challenges as they do not intervene when children throw stones at them and other service providers; and some condone their children’s behaviour as they benefit from the crimes.
“Fortunately we have had speedy responses to incidents from services in intervening and thereby minimising what losses could have escalated.”
He said they were always calling on the community to work in partnership with SAPS in order to help build a safer community – for everyone.
“We want to encourage people to form part of the community safety structures such as street committees, neighbourhood and sub-forums.
“This can be done via social media for example chat groups, so that information can still flow as we see from that a number of firearms have been recovered due to information received from the community.”
Brigadier Goolam said it is worrying that the community is either comfortable being on the side-lines – either as onlookers, victims or beneficiaries from gang activities – “yet the police have a budget to pay for positive information”.
Three people were shot in Tafelsig on Thursday May 14, among them a teenager who was shot in his foot at 7.30am in Wemmershoek Street.
Police retrieved a projectile on the scene and further investigation led to the arrest of a 32-year-old man, who was also linked to another shooting incident in April.
Captain Ian Williams, spokesman for Mitchell’s Plain police station, confirmed that the shooting was gang related.
On the same day, at 8.25pm, a man, 31, was shot in his left eye and his body was found in front of a yard in Waterval Street.
“The motive for the incident is gang related but the victim was not a gang member,” Captain Williams said.
Police are investigating a case of murder.
There have been no arrests yet in this incident.
About an hour later, a man, 47, was shot in the foot in a wendy house, in Theronsberg Street. Police retrieved 21 projectiles from the scene.
Captain Williams said the motive was gang related and that no one was arrested yet. “Police are investigating a case of attempted murder.”
He reported that the body of a man, 24, was found lying in Madrid Street, Freedom Park, Tafelsig, on May 10 at about 2pm.
He had sustained a gunshot wound to his chest.
Captain Williams confirmed the incident was gang related and that upon further investigation, a man, 34, was arrested and faces charges of murder.
On Tuesday May 12, at 10.10am in Bayern Munich Street, Tafelsig, a man, 30, was shot in his back, arm and groin area. The man was taken to hospital.
Police say the motive for this shooting is unknown.
Norman Adonis, chairperson of the Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum (CPF) Hyde Park sub-forum in Tafelsig, told the Plainsman that gangs were not interested in lockdown. “Shooting goes on as normal in Tafelsig,” he said.
Mr Adonis suggested that community members belonging to safety structures be employed to assist police with combating crime daily and to be visible.
Anyone with information about these shootings, can call Mitchell’s Plain SAPS’ Serious and Violent Crimes Unit on 082 777 8076.