The small community of Cafda in Retreat is being overrun by trigger-happy gangsters who are killing and injuring innocent people. These are the words of community worker Aubrey Robinson who lives in the area.
According to Mr Robinson, more than eight people have been shot and killed in the area since just before Christmas last year and there are still sporadic shootings taking place every other day.
He said the community was in the grip of fear and often had to duck to avoid being caught in the crossfire.
“The gangsters have become clever and now have different modus operandi. They shoot at a couple of locations at the same time – one being where the intended victim is shot. So when police are called out they don’t know where to go. These and other tricks are being used to fool police.”
Mr Robinson said that more intervention was needed to stop the ongoing shootings between two gangs in the area “while hundreds of thousands of rands have been spent on CCTV cameras that are still not connected to any control room”.
“How many more of our residents must die before action is taken by our security agencies and government?” he asked.
Resident Walied Gelant said last year there were many shootings in the area: “There were shootings almost everyday and a lot of blood was shed. Lots of gangsters were shot but also many innocent people. Now the shootings aren’t as bad but it’s still happening.”
He added that police were seen patrolling but more was needed.
“There needs to be even more visibility, more police on the ground to get these gangsters off the streets and into prison.”
Steenberg Community Police Forum (CPF) Chairperson Gavin Walbrugh said they were aware of the ongoing gang issues in the area and had been working with police.
“There are always interventions and there has been a concentration on Cafda because of the shootings and gang activity there and as a result there have been arrests and people caught with weapons,” he said.
Steenberg police spokesperson Sergeant Wesley Twigg couldn’t confirm how many people had been shot but confirmed that police had been doing extra patrols in Cafda.
“Last week a shooting occurred in Cafda and police were in the area. The officers heard the gunshots, they went to investigate and they found the person who was shooting and arrested him. In another shooting incident where a man was shot and killed, one person was arrested for the murder.
“We have increased patrols and do stop and searches and search warrants to curb the scourge of gang violence. Shootings were a lot worse but since we increased our visibility and patrols there have been less shootings so we will continue to do this,” said Sergeant Twigg.
Steenberg station commander Colonel Jan Alexander said there were two groups of gangs which were prevalent in the area but said they could be stopped if the community played its part in reporting crimes or suspicious activities.
“Very little reporting is happening in Cafda and we encourage people to help us by reporting anything so that we can arrest those responsible.”
Responding to claims that some police officers were corrupt and worked with the gangsters, Colonel Alexander said this had to be reported as well so that the necessary steps could be taken to investigate the claims.
Ward 68 councillor Marita Petersen, who was involved in the installation of the CCTV cameras in wards 68 and 110, said the CCTV camera room was fully operational and functional and assisted police when needed.
“We are in the process of trying to secure more funding for more cameras. The control room is operated by volunteers at the moment but it is running and is available to police if they need any footage – pending a few processes,” said Ms Petersen.
Sergeant Twigg confirmed that their station had access to footage if they needed it.
Mr Walbrugh said a neighbourhood watch would help in the area but there hadn’t been an active neighbourhood watch since two or three years ago.
“Neighbourhood watches along with the community are the eyes and ears and can report directly to police and patrol. We are trying to re-establish a NHW there to help in this regard.”
He encouraged residents to become part of or start neighbourhood watches to help police and their community. “It can never only be police. The community need to take responsibility and get involved to stop these gangsters by patrolling and being proactive.”
Sergeant Twigg thanked those who had been assisting police. “Your information has helped us and we ask that people continue to give us information to arrest perpetrators of crime”.