Tuesday, November 20, 2018
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Warning shots for gangsters

SAPS vehicles.Gangsters and drug peddlers beware – a new, elite police unit is in town and will be knocking down doors to root out gangsterism in Cape Town’s most notorious communities.

This was the message from President Cyril Ramaphosa as he launched the Anti-Gang Unit in Hanover Park in the Western Cape on Friday. Hanover Park is one of several gang hotspots in the country.

The Anti-Gang Unit is an indication that government has heard the pleas of citizens who are crippled with fear because of gangsterism. Government is now acting to tackle the problem head on.

President Ramaphosa said gangsterism was synonymous with various social ills, not just the drug trade, but also human trafficking, smuggling and a host of other illegal and illicit activities.

Gangsters were also involved in murder and rampant criminality, robbing citizens of their Constitutional right to live in safety. Schools, libraries and community centres have closed their doors and public transportation is shut down.

“We cannot allow this to continue happening. Today our communities, working together with the SA Police Service … are taking back their streets.

“Today we say – the streets of Hanover Park no longer belong to the gangsters. They belong to the people of Hanover Park.

“We declare today to the gangsters that we are not afraid of you. In fact, we are coming after you. We are going to pursue you, we are going to chase you down. We are going to find you in every little corner where you are hiding and we are going to take our lives back. Our police are coming after you,” he said.

National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole said the Anti-Gang Unit was part of operationalising the National Anti-Gangsterism Strategy, which was approved by Cabinet.

The unit is made up of members from specialised units and aims to dislodge and terminally weaken the capacity of the gangs where they are prevalent across the country.

It aims to disorganise and fundamentally disable the criminal economy linked to gangsterism, including drug and firearm supply lines or other identified commodities.

In operation since October 2018, the Anti-Gang Unit has been deployed in the Nyanga, Bonteheuwel and Bishop Lavis clusters in the Western Cape province and will continue to be in full operation in the Peninsula area until communities in the greater Western Cape experience a return to normality.

The President said the unit will also be deployed to other provinces that are gangster hotspots, like Gauteng.

At the launch, members of the unit formed part of the Parade of the Guard of Honour and all the integrated law enforcement agencies that gave the President a salute.

President Ramaphosa later unveiled the first batch that will form part of about 50 vehicles that will be deployed to gang hotspots, including Hanover Park.

“When gang wars flares, it is the innocent who suffer. It is the innocent 20 year-old boy who was looking after his mother and caring for his father, who gets shot. An innocent young boy who was doing good work, who had given his life to caring not only for his family, but care for others as well, and working with the Gift of Givers. A young boy’s life is cut to shreds because of acts of criminality.

“The men and women in blue are going to be coming for you, they will arrest you and put you where you belong – which is behind bars. That is where we are going to find you. It is a priority for SA’s law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities to ensure that gang activity is stopped and it is disrupted,” he said.

Hotline to report gang activity

The President said the launch of the National Anti-Gangsterism Strategy, which is a community-based strategy, signifies the end of the road for gangsters.

He urged members of the community to support the police by reporting acts of criminality and gangsterism.

During a walkabout ahead of the event, the President interacted with local Hanover Park residents. One of them told him that her son was a gangster and she needed help to deal with the challenge.

The President has asked the SA Police Service to work towards establishing an anti-gang hotline to help residents report acts of gangsterism.

“I have discussed … the establishment of a hotline to enable you as members of the community to give information, even on the quiet, anonymously, on suspected gang activity. We believe that if we can do that, gangsters will know that all of you as members of the community, are the eyes and ears of the police.

“They will know that you are looking at everything they are doing and they will fear that you will phone the police through this hotline.”

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