Police Deputy Minister Bongani Mkongi says police will soon be implementing government’s anti-gangsterism strategy to root out gangsters.
The Deputy Minister said he was concerned at the rate at which children are being killed by stray bullets in the crossfire between different gangs in the Cape Flats.
He briefed the media ahead of his visit to the Cape Flats on Thursday afternoon.
“We are going be implementing an anti-gangsterism strategy. The objective of the strategy is to disable, dislodge and weaken the capacity of gangs operating in the different areas to construct prosecution-ready cases and dockets against gangs and gang leaders,” he said.
The Deputy Minister said the strategy, which was recently adopted by Cabinet, will also seek to mobilise and organise communities against gangs and their criminal activities to ensure deployment of visible policing and fight internal corruption.
“We realise that there will be risks to the strategy, for example corruption and intimidation not only to police officers but to the partners and communities at large.
“We must be resolute [in fighting] the scourge of crime bit by bit. We must squeeze criminals and smoke them out of our communities and we believe that working together, we can combat gangerism and criminality in our society,” he said.
This comes amid reports of child murders in the Western Cape, especially in the Cape Flats.
“It pains the Ministry of Police when we have to read in the media of innocent children that are being killed [by] gang violence in the Cape Flats in the Western Cape,” he said.
Areas like Manenberg, Mitchells Plain and Hanover Park, among others, have become “safe havens for hardened criminals and thugs that terrorise our society, and children in particular”.
“The media has recently listed 33 child murders in the province of the Western Cape, mostly through gang violence and the list keeps growing exponentially.
“For the Ministry of Police, this phenomenon is of great concern to us. We are feeling your pain, we don’t only see these [killings of innocent children] as statistics, but as a loss of human life.
“That is why as government we have a constitutional obligation to prevent anything that may threaten the safety of our citizens. We have resolved that the fight against violence against women and children is a priority for this ministry.”
Calls for communities to volunteer in the fight against crime
The Deputy Minster said communities are under siege with children and innocent bystanders being killed in the crossfire.
“One killing of a child is a killing too many. Our children are vulnerable. They cannot go to school, they cannot go to shops, they cannot go to churches, they are caught in the crossfire.
“We have realised that as the police, we cannot deal and address the scourge of gangsterism in our communities alone. We need the assistance of other sectors of society and the community as well.”
He said they were calling on all parents to get involved because this is a societal responsibility and cannot be relegated to police and to politicians alone.
The police cannot deal with gangs in isolation from drugs.
“We need a multi-disciplinary and integrated approach in fighting gangsterism in the Western Cape and across South Africa consisting of law-enforcement agencies, business, social services, the justice cluster, the community and other important stakeholders.
“Communities are urged to be active citizens and form Community Policing Forums and neighbourhood watches.
“We call on residents to build strong street committees in these areas, block committees and all other important structures that are entrenched within the masses of our people to fight crime. Crime decrease in areas where communities are mobilised.
“We therefore encourage [communities] to volunteer information to the police so as to arrest and confiscate this contraband. Information can be forwarded anonymously to the police through the crime stop number.
“We have an active informer network system in which we urge communities to participate in. You can be rewarded for information that is relevant to the police.”