Safety structures discuss gang violence

SAPS, community police forums, neighbourhood watches and other stakeholders gathered at Princeton High School in Woodlands to discuss community safety.

All roads led to Woodlands this weekend as safety structures, including SAPS, community police forums (CPFs), neighbourhood watches and other stakeholders, gathered at Princeton High School to speak about community safety after months of gang violence in Mitchell’s Plain and surrounds.

Last week the Plainsman reported that a stakeholders’ meeting was scheduled for this past weekend to discuss and draft a safety plan for the area (“Another bloody weekend”, Plainsman, August 8).

Speaking at the meeting on Saturday August 11, Major General Johan Brand, former Mitchell’s Plain police station commander, who is the Khayelitsha police cluster commander and who plays an oversight role in the Mitchell’s Plain police cluster, said: “Statistics isn’t a true reflection of what is happening with crime, we all know what is happening in crime. There has been an increase in contact crime and a decrease in property crime. The hot spots at this time for contact crime and gangsterism are in Mitchell’s Plain, Lentegeur and Philippi precinct.

“In terms of the interventions implemented by the national minister of police, it was the base camps and additional manpower given to the Western Cape. Members from various units in the country are working at these base camps in Mitchell’s Plain and Steenberg. We have already seen the successes of the base camps as well as the community working with us.”

He also added that they receive 11 000 complaints a month for domestic violence.

“Domestic violence plays a major role in gang violence, broken families and peer pressure at schools, to name a few. There are no role models, young children will rather look up to the notorious gangster than the cops.

“If SAPS doesn’t work together with all community structures, what will happen to the community, what will happen to our children? We must stop sitting in boardrooms and put action into our work. We should utilise after school programmes, empty spaces and have economic activities for young people.

“We will give responsible time frames for what we need to do; we must end these talk shows. Let’s work together and trust each other.”

Abie Isaacs, chairperson of the Mitchell’s Plain CPF, said the safety workshop was held to “orientate ourselves around CPF and neighbourhood watch safety structures” and no plan has been drawn up for Mitchell’s Plain or the cluster yet.

“This workshop helped the newly elected leaders who joined the safety structures as it gave them exposure to the mandate of the CPF and the neighbourhood watch and (the impact of) domestic violence.”

Aziza Kannemeyer, chairperson of the Athlone CPF, said: “Schools are the recruitment grounds for gangs. We should be taking the neighbourhood watches to schools, assign them to a school, give them a stipend as most of these people are volunteering their time and most of them do not have jobs. This will also give teachers time to teach their learners.

“In order for me to exercise my role, I need to know that my partners in fighting crime has my back. SAPS needs to double-up on what they are doing, they need to recruit more and work effectively. We cannot talk about working effectively if the numbers don’t match. We are volunteering to work with the community, we need to trust you too. Stop excluding us as the community component.”