Outrage at violence

Ward 67 councillor Jerry Gordon speaks to concerned Hillview residents after they interrupted a Sub-council 18 meeting last week.

A plan is being set in motion to assist residents from Hillview with the ongoing warfare in their neighbourhood.

Over the past few months residents have been subjected to countless sleepless nights and anxious days because of continuous gang shootings.

According to residents, nearly 30 people have been shot and killed in the area because of a gang and drug turf war that has also left several innocent people injured and dead.

The gang war in Lavender Hill and the surrounding areas has intensified over the past few months, more specifically in Hillview.

Residents say they are at their wits’ end and last week barricaded their roads with tyres and bricks to show their anger and frustration.

Community leader Aysha Davids said the violence is taking a toll on the community.

“Innocent people are dying. Our children are traumatised. People are scared to leave their homes because shots ring out at all hours of the day like we’re living in a war zone,” she said.

“Nothing is being done about it. There are meetings where these issues are raised but we are still waiting on feedback from meetings that were held weeks ago,” said Ms Davids.

Last Friday, March 16, residents interrupted the monthly meeting of Sub-council 18, which includes the wards that have been most affected by the gun violence.

About 30 residents made their way to the Lotus River Sub-council office and pleaded for intervention to stop the gang violence.

They said that they would not reopen the roads until their requests were met.

Speaking to Ward 67 councillor Gerry Gordon, those in attendance told harrowing stories of their experience having to sleep on the floor in case bullets rip through their windows. A father, whose son was shot, said he has had enough of the gangsters.

With tears, the father, who did not want to be named, said neither government nor police are doing anything to help the people of Hillview.

“People are dying, falling like flies and we are frustrated. We can’t walk in our streets, our children are afraid to go to school. What else needs to happen for us to get the help we need? Officials are just talking, We have had enough of talks. I think these politicians need to come to Hillview for one night to see the chaos and to see inside the turf war,” he said.

Ms Gordon said policing is not the mandate of the City of Cape Town but that of the South African Police Services (SAPS). She said, however, that she will address concerns about drug and gang houses in the area.

“I understand that the community is frustrated and we are just as frustrated. Police are not doing what they’re supposed to do which is to protect our people. We cannot accept this. Something needs to be done,” she said.

On Monday, March 19, community leaders, the cluster Community Police Forum (CPF) and police held a meeting to address the residents’ concerns and talk about a way forward.

Ms Davids said the meeting was productive and requests by them were raised and will hopefully be looked into.

“A task team will be established and we have made several suggestions such as to have the Nyalas (armoured vehicles) stationed in the area as a matter of urgency; to employ the combat forces and get other government departments involved. We are getting somewhere and (hope) that the time frame for our requests will be met,” said Ms Davids.

The community also raised concerns about corrupt police officers at Muizenberg station as well as gangsters who are arrested but released back into the area soon afterwards.

“We know there is corruption at Muizenberg police. Officers need to be rotated because they become acquainted with the gangsters. These are the steps that need to be taken to make our community safer,” said Ms Davids.

A follow up meeting has been scheduled for Thursday March 22 to hopefully finalise the task team and a plan.

Muizenberg police spokesperson Captain Stephen Knapp said the aim of the task team is to establish new partnerships to support the community.

“As police we are the first line of defence but there are other roleplayers not only community organisations but also state entities that need to be part of looking at a holistic approach,” said Captain Knapp.

Responding to resident’s request for Nyalas to be stationed in the area, Captain Knapp said he cannot preempt whether this would happen but said it will be discussed.

“The area does need to be stabilised but on a few occasions officers were attacked by the community. We need to protect the officers as well so we will take all factors into consideration but that is one of the options,” he said.

Responding to claims of corruption at the station, Captain Knapp said residents should provide details of corrupt officers which can then be investigated.

He appealed to the community to work with them.

“They have to see us part of the solution. They need to provide us with information because the gangsters are from their community. They need to be our eyes and ears. I understand that there is mistrust but sometimes the community uses this as an excuse. We need people to stand up and say they will not tolerate gangsters in their communities any longer,” said Captain Knapp.