Pa­gad mo­bilises against drugs and gangs

But po­lice warn against un­law­ful be­hav­iour

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - LYNNETTE JOHNS

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.”

Po­lice

TIRE­LESS: Jeremy Veary

PIC­TURES: JEF­FREY ABRA­HAMS

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.

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