Residents grill province over gangs

Community worker Cassiem Gamiet poses a question to the MECs at the Western Cape Government outreach programme at the Nelson Mandela Family and youth community centre, in Tafelsig.

Mitchell’s Plain residents raised their concerns about the spike in gang-related murders with Community Safety MEC Dan Plato, last week.

At an outreach programme hosted by the Western Cape government at the Nelson Mandela Family and Youth Centre, in Tafelsig, on Wednesday April 11, Cassiem Gamiet, from Lentegeur East, said there had been six murders in his community in the past week, four alone last weekend (“9 killed in 9 days”, Plainsman, April 4).

“What projects have you got in Mitchell’s Plain?” he asked.

“Did you consult with the community? Each area differs; did you find out what exactly is needed?”

Mr Gamiet said Finance MEC Ivan Meyer’s budget presentation did not detail Mitchell’s Plain-specific projects.

After summaries of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s state of the province address and Mr Meyer’s budget speech were presented, residents were allowed to ask questions.

Ms Zille explained that local councillors would answer matters pertaining to the municipality and that the MECs would respond to questions regarding provincial issues.

“Murder is a definite problem, and there has been a spike in the number of murders in your area, Mitchell’s Plain, Lentegeur, The Farm, Eastridge and Tafelsig.

“It is a problem, and I did take it up last week, during a lengthy meeting with the minister of police,” said Mr Plato.

He added that police had let go of 15 000 reservists, resulting in a lack of police visibility and that CPFs and neighbourhood watches were calling for those reservists to be reinstated.

Mr Plato added that a national workshop was scheduled to take place today, Wednesday April 18, and tomorrow, Thursday April 19, at which safety and crime issues were top of the agenda.

Charlotte Williams, from Tafelsig, who is an African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) proportional representative (PR) councillor, held up last week’s edition of the Plainsman, the headline of which read “9 killed in 9 days”.

“This is something we live with every day in Mitchell’s Plain. Every day we hear of someone, who has been killed,” she said. “There are so many gangsters killing each other, and young people are the victims,” she said.

She took Mr Plato to task for the large police contingent, and collaboration by all tiers of government during evangelist Angus Buchan’s prayer meeting for rain in Tafelsig on Saturday March 24.

“There was this prayer service in Mitchell’s Plain and there was police for Africa. National, provincial and local government could work together to achieve this, but nobody can do this for us, who live like animals, in fear every day of our lives,” she said.

Mr Plato said that while the event was being planned, gangsters had made threats and the decision was made to deploy police to the area, to protect the more than 100 000 people who attended.

“Not to safeguard the lives of over 100 000 people and people coming into the area it would have been really bad for Mitchell’s Plain. If any of those people had been attacked on Mitchell’s Plain soil that would have given Mitchell’s Plain a very bad name.

“So, we had to take precaution. But I agree with you. Why were there so many police officers available and why are they not available every day,” he asked.

He also advocated the walking bus – parents, grandparents and volunteers who create a safe passage for pupils to and from school.

“The head-masters have said they don’t worry about the safety; the parents sort it out instead,” he said. “As an individual, as a parent we can do an awful lot and stop violence in its tracks,” he said.

He urged residents to become part of community-based drives, even in the classroom, where they were allowed to sit in and try to assist the teachers.