Woodlands residents are calling on everyone to join the fight against gangsterism and drugs, following two different incidents of bonfires in Orpheus Crescent.
Residents had been keeping vigil, in Baird Square since Friday April 19, when rumours that gangsters threatened to take over children’s playing space emerged. And three days later, they attempted to take over Merrifield Park.
But quick thinking by local grandmothers and mothers halted their efforts. The women set tyres alight.
A woman, who refused to be named because she had been threatened by gangsters, urged the community to join them at the fires.
“If they see any gang activities they must report it,” she said. “I do not have children, but I have nieces and nephews and the other young kids growing up without parents addicted to drugs. That’s why I am fighting.”
Carmen Petersen, from Merrifield Park, said her grandchildren and children were at risk. She said her grandson was already using gangster terms.
“Hy kan al sabela die taal,” she said.
Ms Petersen said the community had taken matters into their own hands because they had lost faith in the police.
“We had to put them (gangs) out,” saidMr Petersen.
“We cannot allow them to take over our community.” Ms Petersen said women continued to engage police with limited intervention. “They never speak to us,” she said.
Ms Petersen said the women took shifts so that their husbands could go to work
Fellow resident, Carin Fisher, said the community had been held to ransom for too long.
“Most nights we can’t sleep because it is like a party outside, in our streets. We want to own our rights, to put structures up to block the lanes and bar free thoroughfare to our homes,” she said.
Ms Fisher said they would do whatever it took to be safe and secure in their community if police and the council failed to protect them. “There is a negative feeling towards the SAPS (South African Police Service). We feel like we are going to waste our time.
“We’ve lost respect for the uniform. It is all about money,” she said.
Ms Fisher said it has reached “boiling point” and that corruption would not be tolerated.
Constable Shaun Abrahams, Lentegeur police station spokesman, confirmed that sector commander Constable Nomawethu Renqe is aware of the various bonfires and that contact had been made with the safety structures in the area.
Sector 4 includes Woodlands and is bordered by Morgenster Road, Eisleben, Highlands and Weltevreden Parkway.
He said station management urged residents to join the safety structures in their various sectors, establish street or block committees.
For more information they can contact their sector commanders.
“Lentegeur SAPS does not condone any form of corruption or misconduct and does not have a record of any such claims,” he said.
He said residents can speak to station commander Colonel Herman Seals anonymously.
Joan Woodman, councillor for Ward 75, said no one informed her about the bonfires but that she had read about it in WhatsApp texts.
She confirmed that residents had given her personal assistant a petition calling for the lanes to be closed. “I have been informing residents who enquired regarding lane closures that were identified, what the process was,” she said.
Ms Woodman said she was not sure, why the residents wanted her to join them at the bonfires.
“This is a safety and security matter and falls within the jurisdiction of law enforcement, SAPS and the community police forum (CPF),” she said.