Frustrated Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum (CPF) executive members will be meeting with other forums, specifically affected by gang violence, after they recorded 26 murders in their local police precinct this month.
Just yesterday, Tuesday February 26, a 16-year-old boy was shot dead on an open field adjacent to Durban Way, Portland, at 6.45am.
Mitchell’s Plain police station spokesman, Sergeant Jerome Voegt, confirmed the teen sustained multiple bullet wounds to his head, neck and chest.
He said the circumstances surrounding the shooting were unknown but that a case of murder was being investigated.
“The possibility that this incident might be gang-related will be investigated. No arrests have as yet been made,” he said.
Hours earlier, at 12.25am, the body of a 25-year-old man was found in Zambezi Way, Portland, with multiple stab wounds. He was declared dead by paramedics at the scene.
Sergeant Voegt said police found a Taurus PT92 9mm pistol at the scene.
Abie Isaacs, Mitchell’s Plain CPF chairperson, posted on his WhatsApp status: “Murder in Mplain from 2/02/19 – 20/02/2019 is 24” last week (Wednesday February 20).
Mr Isaacs said recurring shootings, sometimes within hours of each other, have been reported in Mitchell’s Plain and neighbouring areas such as Bonteheuwel and Lavender Hill with regularity – an occurrence unheard of elsewhere in the world.
On Monday February 25, he told the Plainsman a woman had been shot and injured in Eastridge the night before and a man in Montrose Park, was seriously injured in another shooting incident that same night.
CPF executive members from Strandfontein, Athlone, Nyanga and Philippi met on Thursday February 21 to plot a way forward. Lentegeur CPF chairperson, Byron de Villiers, had tendered an apology.
They are planning to meet again on Saturday March 16, with other CPF executives, from across the Western Cape, particularly the Cape Flats, where Mr Isaacs said a “low-key civil war” was under way.
“We represent the community and we need to do what needs to be done to ensure innocent people are kept safe,” he said. “They can call us renegades but we have tabled our concerns with the cluster and the provincial community boards. We need a totally different way of dealing with things,” he said.
Mitchell’s Plain CPF secretary, Lynn Phillips, agreed with Mr Isaacs, saying they had raised matters at specific levels, which has not had an impact.
“This is going to be a different discussion. We don’t have all of the answers alone. It might come from other people, who might have done something in their particular area,” she said.
Mr De Villiers said the move was in no way political.
“We are just fed up of people being in positions and not doing what they’re supposed to,” he said.
He said, looking at the statistics, Lentegeur precinct was directly affected by the gang violence and that more people were being killed in Mitchell’s Plain.
“We want the killings to be addressed. We want to know what is the police’s plan. We want them to be proactive and not a reactive force,” he said.
Mr De Villiers said the stations have good police officers but they are overworked and under-resourced.
“We have engagements arranged with Advocate Lennit Max (special adviser to Police Minister Bheki Cele) and are hopeful that he will be bringing something to the table,” he said.
“We would like to know what he’s going to do differently this time compared to the last time he was in Mitchell’s Plain,” he said.
Last year Mr Max, a former Democratic Alliance (DA) veteran jumped ship to join the African National Congress (ANC).
The former Community Safety MEC and provincial police commissioner had resigned his seat in the Western Cape legislature early last year to take up a position in the police ministry.
Strandfontein CPF chairperson, Sandy Schuter, said they had 10 murders last year and that the police had not engaged with the community on this issue.
“The partnership is broken. The CPF and community safety structures are working extremely hard but we cannot be working in isolation,” she said.
Ms Schuter said she has sent emails and spoken up in imbizos with provincial and national police heads about the management of Strandfontein police station but no feedback was received.
“It is the responsibility of the station commander to meet with the community,” she said. “We are doing all we can to have mini-imbizos and our Facebook page to keep the community informed as to what is happening in their area,” she said.
She commended law enforcement and Metro police, from area south for their assistance and working alongside the community.
Ms Schuter hopes to have a public meeting soon, to tell the community of the CPF’s battle for answers and to put on record the hard work they have been doing behind the scenes.
She said the morale of police officers was at an all-time low, with members being dismissed and transferred to other stations or units.
“One person has to fill two portfolios. An email was sent, stating that there is a shortage of manpower and that Mitchell’s Plain police station should assist, but they are also stretched as they have a gang crisis on their hands,” she said.
Ms Schuter said the police had to be more proactive.
“We need an action plan on the ground,” she said.
She said the Anti-Gang Unit did good work but they had to rush to crises across the province.
“What is the local station doing about gang violence,” she said. “We can’t just have raids. We need crime intelligence in our local precinct,” she said.
Mitchell’s Plain cluster community police board chairperson, Lucinda Evans, said she knows about the March 16 meeting but could not comment ahead of a meeting with the provincial board chairperson, Andrew Lyons, on Friday March 1.
“We are outraged at the death toll. I have been engaging with provincial police and asked for more police to be deployed to the area,” she said.
She said she understood the CPF executive members’ frustrations and just last week, Wednesday February 20, she had asked for more support from SAPS.
Ms Evans said after a meeting with the board, she will meet with acting cluster commander, General Hendrik Burger, himself a former Mitchell’s Plain police station commander.
She encourage the community to join the CPF and to send information to the CPF to help confiscate guns, so the criminals can be brought to book.
Anyone with information on either of the murders can call Mitchell’s Plain police on 021 370 1782 or Crime Stop on 08600 10111.