Zille diverts R3m to help fight Cape Flats gangs
Premier addresses Steenberg plight
AMID growing calls for a greater law enforcement presence, Premier Helen Zille has announced plans to divert R3 million from a provincial government project to assist in the deployment of a stabilisation unit in Lavender Hill.
Gang violence in the area forced the closure of four schools and a local clinic last week.
Zille spoke yesterday, in Child Protection Week, at a meeting between the SAPS, law enforcement agencies, the Western Cape Education Department and school principals from the Steenberg area, to discuss a “specified, detailed strategy” for the safety of children in the community.
“Though it is not the province’s mandate at all, I have taken R3 million from a provincial project to transfer to the city, so director Robbie Robberts can deploy a stabilisation unit,” Zille said.
Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk confirmed that “extra forces are being deployed in the Steenberg precinct and members will stay in the area to monitor the situation”.
Parents of children who attend the four affected schools – Levana, Prince George and Hillwood primary schools and Lavender Hill High – also attended the meeting.
Zille could not go into details about the deployment strategy “because there is a great risk that it could be reported in the media or reported directly to gang members”.
Esethu Hasane, spokesperson for Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, told the Weekend Argus “cabinet has approved an anti-gang strategy but the minister is still ironing out the finer details”.
Hasane added Mbalula had also deployed a 60-member task team to the crime hot-spot of Nyanga.
MEC for Education in the Western Cape, Debbie Schäfer, this week called on Mbalula to fulfil his promise to reinstate specialised gang units within the police to address the ongoing violence on the Cape Flats.
Schäfer said the gang violence was not only affecting schools but the entire community.
Four gangs – the Junky Funky Kids, the Mongrels, the Fast Guns and the Corner Boys – have been embroiled in “turf wars” in Lavender Hill, which have resulted in several shoot-outs during school hours. Zille attributed the gang violence to a lack of “person power”, the scrapping of the specialised gang units and budget constraints.
Schools in the area reopened on Wednesday while the clinic reopened yesterday.
Teachers and parents shut down the schools last week, due to safety concerns.
A concerned parent, who wished to remain anonymous, told Weekend Argus that she attended yesterday’s meeting to “hear first hand what plans they have to keep our children safe”.
“These gangs are holding us ransom in our own homes, and now they are forcing our children out of school,” she said.
“They are robbing our children of an education they deserve.” Meanwhile, police cluster commander MajorGeneral Greg Goss confirmed that the recent shootings happened within a 500m radius of the four affected schools in the area.
He said the shootings occurred in areas “the children had to move through to get to the school and from the school, so all our operations are centred in this area”.
Goss also noted a growing concern of communities that did not “report incidents, or cases were withdrawn out of fear and some drug dependency”.
He said 10 gangsters had been arrested since the beginning of May, while 57 remained on a most wanted list.