Pagad mobilises against drugs and gangs
But police warn against unlawful behaviour
PAGAD says it is prepared to meet “force with force” and “violence with violence” as it once again mobilises across the Cape Flats to take on drug lords, gangsters and the state.
The organisation is prepared to demonstrate and march to Parliament, drug dens and police stations to get its point across and its voice heard.
It said it would stop at nothing and “would defend themselves if necessary”, as it was not illegal to carry weapons, executive member Osman Sahib said this week.
But in Mitchells Plain, where Pagad has been very active, it could find itself on the wrong side of the law, as police station commander Jeremy Veary has indicated he would not tolerate “unlawful behaviour”.
And he has found allies in the community.
Mitchells Plain neighbourhood watches and street committees have thrown their weight squarely behind Veary, who they say has worked tirelessly and effectively in dealing with drugs and gangsterism since his appointment in 2007.
On Thursday night the police and Pagad played a catand-mouse game at the Lentegeur and Rylands mosques. Police had been infor med Pagad supporters were planning to drive from the Rylands mosque to Lentegeur, from where they would stage a march.
But a heavy police presence in the area at both mosques prevented any protests.
This week, 58 Pagad supporters appeared in the Mitchells Plain Magistrate’s Court on charges of public violence after they attempted to march on a drug dealer’s house in Lentegeur on Saturday evening.
A police source said Veary was on the scene immediately, and quelled what police said was an illegal protest within “seven minutes”.
Veary and Hawks com- mander Anwa Dramat were instrumental in breaking Pagad’s back in the mid-1990s during a reign of terror on the Cape Flats. Pagad also made the US list of alleged terror organisations.
Sahib said Pagad was simply taking back the streets. “We are not violent.” He added the organisation was merely “defending the defenceless”.
But the police confiscated two licensed firear ms when they arrested the 58 Pagad supporters on Saturday.
Sahib said: “The situation (drugs and gangsterism) is 10 times worse 10 years later, and we need to bring areas under control.
“Gangsters and drug dealers cannot make nonsense. We are peaceful to the peaceful. If gangsters and drug dealers attack our people, we need to defend ourselves. We won’t give the other cheek.”
He promised that once they started to seriously mass mobilise and walk in their thousands, they would bring drug dealers and gangsters “down to size”.
Sahib said they were setting up branches and have had mass meetings in Grassy Park and Parkwood Estate.
“When we take to the streets, we will do all it takes.”
But Sahib backed down when asked if marches would be ar med, saying they also “depended on the police to protect them, as marches should not be armed”.
Today Muslims start the holy month of Ramadaan. Sahib said even though there would not be mass programmes during the month, they would continue speaking to the community about drug awareness.
“There is lots of fear currently and mothers are helpless. Mass mobilisation gives people courage and they don’t feel so isolated.”
However, women also form a huge part of the neighbourhood watches and street committees in Mitchells Plain.
While they did not want to be named, they said they were fighting for the husbands and children, but they were doing it within the law.
Meanwhile, bonfires have become a popular way of ensuring drug addicts shy away from buying their fixes. For the past five weeks at night and on weekends, residents in Dorper Way in Westridge have sat around a bonfire opposite a drug house.
They are using the strategy which has helped close down drug dens and say they have noticed a sharp decrease in the number of drug deals when they are there. They are now working on a system they could use during the day to discourage drug trafficking, street committee chair man Shaun Moultrie said.
A neighbourhood watch member hailed Veary, saying he had made a huge difference in the fight against crime in Mitchells Plain.
Under his direction the neighbourhood watch members and street committees had closed down 15 of 40 known drug dens since April and 164 of 259 ille gal shebeens, said Michael Jacobs, Mitchells Plain Community Forum chairman.
Jacobs added that Veary had the support of the community and had been instrumental in setting up hundreds of street committees, which had proved to be effective. “He even goes on foot patrol with the watches and street committees. He will go to all 13 sectors. He goes and he speaks to people – he listens to their complaints.”
Riyaaz Lewin said: “Veary is correct in his approach. He is doing a fantastic job, we can depend on him, and crime has decreased.”
TIRELESS: Jeremy Veary
ACTIVE: Members of the Westridge NorthWest Sector gather outside a house in Mitchells Plain.
CAMPAIGN: The Dorper Way Street Committee at their bonfire opposite an alleged drug house.