New SAPS initiative gives residents in gang-infested areas the blues
Residents are less than impressed with the SAPS’s Country in Blue strategy, which will see the police driving with their emergency blue lights switched on from 6pm to 6am.
A Heideveld mother frantically calls police in the early hours to protect her son from being murdered by hitmen, but no help comes. In Lavender Hill, the calls of residents to police to protect the elderly from gangsters taking over their homes have fallen on deaf ears.
These are some of the pressing issues activists in the gang-ravaged areas on the Cape Flats feel Police Minister Bheki Cele should tackle. They were responding to the SA Police Service’s launch of the Country in Blue strategy on Saturday, 25 September, at the Inanda policing precinct in Durban.
The strategy, implemented in all nine provinces, aims to heighten police visibility across South Africa — all SAPS vehicles on the road will have their emergency blue lights switched on from 6pm to 6am.
Under the theme, “Extending our reach through blue light visibility”, Cele said: “Its overall goal is to prevent and combat a host of crimes, which include all 17 community reported crimes; gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), aggravated robberies such as carjacking, business and residential robberies… as well as the tracking of unwanted suspects and the proliferation of firearms.”
Cele highlighted that policing has changed and that streets rather than police stations should be the centre of policing. More boots and blue lights on the ground, he said, not only mean police officers are visible at all times to deter criminality, but officers should also be quick to respond to the needs of communities.
Manenberg activist Roegchanda Pascoe firmly believes the blue light visibility initiative won’t make a dent in the fight against gang violence and the rape of women.
“It is a wasteful expedition. This time used and spent could be better utilised. People are phoning four to five times to get through to Manenberg police station. If they get through they are then put on hold.”
Pascoe said she is inundated with desperate calls for help from residents who get no response from the police.
She has the contact details of several senior police officers and she calls on them to send police to defuse dangerous situations.
“People in gang-infested areas are out on their own and police only arrive after the shooting incidents to count the bullet-riddled bodies,” she added.
Another stumbling block, Pascoe said, is the high level of police corruption. What is the use of police holding roadblocks and flashing their lights at night while their own tip off the drug dealers and gang kingpins?
This also appears to be the trend in Lavender Hill, Elsies River, Mitchells Plain, Heideveld, Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Gugulethu, Scottsdene, Delft and Bishop Lavis.
The Fancy Boys gang in Manenberg has expanded its drug operation into Heideveld. This has set them on a collision course with the Americans gang in Heideveld. At least three Americans gang members have been killed.
A single mother whose son was fathered by an alleged gang leader in Heideveld said: “Last week hitmen near my home asked residents where my son stayed. I called the police and they didn’t even bother to come out. It is a blessing in the morning when I wake up and my son is still alive.”
Lavender Hill residents are grappling with gangsters forcing elderly people out of their homes.
Pastor Dorothy Soetwater said: “I’ve phoned the police for help without any success. I want the police minister to visit our area and see the amount of elderly people forced out of their homes and living in Wendy houses.”
In Khayelitsha, it has been seven years since the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry report showed a total breakdown in relations between the community and police.
The 2012 commission of inquiry was the result of complaints relating to ineffective policing in the area. A 580-page report was released in August 2014, but to date nothing has been done. Violent crimes are still rampant.
Crime Statistics for the 1st quarter of the financial year 2021/2020 released on 20 August showed that murder figures had dropped for Khayelitsha, Philippi East and Bityi police stations in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape. See the report here:
But Delft in the Western Cape is one of the three police stations that recorded the highest incidents of rape.
In the neighbouring township of Gugulethu, 44 murders were committed between April and June this year. Extortion rings are causing mayhem and are believed to be behind most of these murders.
These are the issues activists want Cele to address instead of operational SAPS vehicles on the road having their emergency warning blue lights switched on from sunset to sunrise.
“Mr Cele, these blue lights won’t stop the shootings, murders and rape of women in gang-infested areas on the Cape Flats,” Pascoe said. DM/MC
Daily Maverick © All rights reserved