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[LISTEN] Challenging the Scourge of Gang Related Violence in the Western Cape

May 25, 2022

Umm Muhammed Umar

Gang related shootings in the Western Cape this week saw three family members killed, while five people were shot and wounded in Manenberg on Monday. The violence was condemned by the Western Cape government, who called on police to urgently arrest the perpetrators of violence and crime. Western Cape MEC of Community Safety and Police Oversight, Regan Allen, spoke to Radio Islam.

Allen said that the Khayelitsha incident was still being investigated, and that no arrests had been made as yet. Regarding the mass shooting that took place in March, the MEC said, “I have been informed that two of the alleged perpetrators have already appeared in court.” He said, “we have seen in a number of areas, like Lavender Hill and Manenberg, there has been a flare up in gangsterism, and it’s often linked directly to drug turf.” He said that whenever a gang member was killed or shot, there was retaliation.

Allen said that they did have a clear engagement with the South African Police Service in terms of the ‘72-hour activation plan’. The first 72 hours after an incident are apparently crucial in apprehending alleged perpetrators. He added, however, “Sadly, we have seen too little gang members be arrested, but also the conviction rate in eight of our top 10 murder stations was sitting, between April 2020 and May 2021, at a 0%.” According to the MEC, there has, nonetheless, been a huge decrease in the murder rate in some areas. He said that areas such as Kraaifontein had seen a 40.5% reduction in the murder rate for the last quarter, and that even Nyanga, which was previously known as the murder capital of South Africa, no longer retained that title. Allen said, “so there are some successes, but obviously, (there is) still a long way to go.”

LEAP (Law Enforcement Advancement Plan) played a huge role alongside the SAPS, according to the MEC, focusing on hotspot areas. Allen said, “We have the stats on the murders in that particular area. We have information with regard to murders that happened, (and) attempted murders, and we linked it to the data that we obtain from forensics, from health, in terms of the ambulance, in terms of the hospitals, as well as SAPS.” He said that LEAP officers were deployed based on that data, so that they were where they were most needed “to help and assist communities that are living in constant fear.” The joint operations, however, did have challenges. Allen said that there was a reduction in members across the province. There was also a 10% vacancy rate in SAPS. He said, “Hence, the Western Cape safety plan has been so clear in terms of a two-pronged approach – on the one hand, we are adding extra boots on the ground.” He added, “but also it is looking at violence prevention – if a young boy goes to school and displays antisocial behaviour, there are activities and programs in place to help and assist such boys, for example.” The MEC said that in terms of cultural affairs and sport, some schools had MOD (Match, Opportunity, and Development) centres, for after school activities at school, especially in troubled areas. There were also efforts to ensure that there were social workers on the ground able to help once there was a referral from the school or from SAPS.

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