‘Mitchell’s Plain needs a gang plan’

Mitchell's Plain United Residents' Association members Alex Lawrence, Magreta Koopman, Ebrahim Abdulla and Norman Jantjes, and in front, Waydeline Hendricks and Michael Jacobs.

Mitchell’s Plain should have its own gang strategy to combat gang violence, says the Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association (MURA).

The 2016/2017 crime statistics were released by the Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, on Tuesday October 24. The statistics reflect crime reported between April 1 2016 to March 31 this year.

The organisation feels that even though there’s been a decrease in the number of crimes reported over most crime categories in the Mitchell’s Plain police precinct, they cannot celebrate as many residents are still in pain and are suffering in silence.

According to the statistics for the latest period there were 103 murders compared to the 119 that were reported in 2015/ 2016.

Norman Jantjes, chairperson of Mura, said gang violence has increased over the past six months in Mitchell’s Plain. He said Mitchell’s Plain needs its own gang strategy that is tailor-made for the area. “Too many people are living in fear, dying on the streets. What the area needs is a gang plan with an integrated approach. We are concerned about crime in our area, and if crime is not addressed the situation can get worse,” he said.

Mr Jantjes is the former Mitchell’s Plain director of the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro) and independent Ward 76 councillor (1996 to 2001). He said police visibility plays an important role in communities and added that there is a lack of police resources. “It is worrying that there is only one sector vehicle out on the road per sector. If the specific sector has a complaint to attend, what happens if there is a shooting or accident at the same time. This now means that residents have to wait longer for the police to arrive to assist them,” he said.

Michael Jacobs, the deputy chairperson of Mura, said interventions should include community input. “They should be able to inform the police about high risk or hot spot areas and what time of day gangs operate. The police should listen to residents about what they propose as solutions; it cannot come from the top it should come from the community. There should be a good working relationship between the community safety organisations, for example the neigbourhood watches, and police,” he said.

Mr Jacobs added that more youngsters are becoming perpetrators and added that more school safety programmes should be implemented at schools. “Violence in schools is also increasing, pupils are going to schools with weapons. This is very worrying because it is a place of learning. There should be interventions aimed at children from 11 years old – organisations should focus on them and upwards. Our children cannot be connected to criminal activity at a young age,” he said.

Mr Jantjes said as an organisation they are trying their best to assist in crime prevention, but added that the police and the community police forum cannot do it alone.

“Crime is not only the police’s concern, but should be the residents’ concern too.

“It is time residents stand up and take their streets back, obviously with the support of the police. Residents must report crime, be proactive and join crime-fighting structures,” he said. See page 6.