De­bate on gangs and crime grows heated

Tem­pers flare in Western Cape Leg­is­la­ture dis­cus­sion

Cape Argus - - NEWS - Ja­son Felix

WHERE chil­dren on the Cape Flats once played soc­cer in the street, they now cock guns and use drugs. And or­di­nary cit­i­zens do not want re­port po­lice cor­rup­tion be­cause its in vain to re­port Satan to the Devil.

These were some of the com­ments that politi­cians shouted at each other dur­ing a heated Western Cape Leg­is­la­ture de­bate on the 2017 “State of Ur­ban Safety in South African Cities Re­port” drafted by the Ur­ban Safety Ref­er­ence Group.

The de­bate comes amid a chill­ing ad­mis­sion by the Deputy Min­is­ter of Po­lice, Bon­gani Mkongi, that guns which re­cently dis­ap­peared from the Bel­lville South and Mitchells Plain po­lice sta­tions, were stolen by a mem­ber of the po­lice and sold to gang­sters.

DA Western Cape spokesper­son on com­mu­nity safety, Mireille Wenger, said although Cape Town had the low­est level of poverty of SA’s met­ros, the city had a high crime rate.

“The mur­der rate has in­creased by 40% over the last five years. Philippi East was used as a case study where one in 10 peo­ple said that they car­ried a gun for self-pro­tec­tion. Even neigh­bour­hood watch mem­bers fear for their lives when they are on pa­trol, as it’s a case of ‘ba­tons against guns’, one of the study’s par­tic­i­pants said.

“There are guns all over our town­ship. For ev­ery three peo­ple you meet, one of them has an il­le­gal gun with them,” Wenger said.

She added that Philippi East was the city’s mur­der cap­i­tal, and not Nyanga.

“While Nyanga may have the high­est num­ber of mur­ders in to­tal num­ber of cases, we must also look at the num­ber of mur­ders in pro­por­tion to the pop­u­la­tion. A larger pop­u­la­tion may be ex­pected to record higher mur­der num­bers, so if we look at the num­ber of mur­ders in re­la­tion to the pop­u­la­tion, we have a real prob­lem in Philippi East,” she said.

The ANC’s Western Cape spokesper­son on com­mu­nity safety, Pat Lekker, said the re­port ac­knowl­edged that, on av­er­age, fewer than half as many peo­ple were likely to be mur­dered to­day than in 1994.

“The ANC-led gov­ern­ment in this prov­ince man­aged to work so hard and re­duced the mur­der rate from 55 per 100 000 to 40 be­tween 2005 and 2009. In con­trast, the mur­der rate has since in­creased from 40 to 62 be­tween 2009 and 2016. Clearly, the ANC gains were re­versed un­der the DA-led gov­ern­ment.”

Lekker claimed that be­tween 2015 and this year, po­lice of­fi­cers and other law-en­force­ment agen­cies had ar­rested al­most 60 sus­pects for crime-re­lated of­fences. “This is over and above 338 sus­pects ar­rested dur­ing in­tel­li­gence-driven op­er­a­tions in Nyanga, ap­proved by JP Smith (city mayco mem­ber for safety, se­cu­rity and so­cial ser­vices). Many of these sus­pects were found in pos­ses­sion of il­le­gal firearms, am­mu­ni­tion, drugs and other dan­ger­ous weapons.”

DA MPL Basil Kivedo said stray bul­lets had killed too many chil­dren.

“Where a child once played, he now cocks a gun. Where a young boy once as­pired to be a sports­man, a fire­man, or a lawyer, he now seeks the ap­proval of his older peers and the sense of be­long­ing to a gang,” he said.

Act­ing Premier Alan Winde said the ANC was con­stantly quot­ing num­bers but was not mak­ing any progress.

He also spoke on be­half of Com­mu­nity Safety MEC Dan Plato, who was in Klein­mond where vi­o­lent protests have erupted.

WHERE A YOUNG BOY ONCE AS­PIRED TO BE A SPORTS­MAN, FIRE­MAN OR A LAWYER, HE NOW SEEKS THE SENSE OF BE­LONG­ING TO A GANG

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