Zille di­verts R3m to help fight Cape Flats gangs

Pre­mier ad­dresses Steen­berg plight

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - ASANDA SOKANYILE

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.

asanda.sokanyile@inl.co.za

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