Statement by Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety
Gugulethu walkabout: Gangsterism continues to hold communities captive
Date: 17 July 2018
The safety oversight walkabout in Gugulethu with community and religious leaders, local councillors and the local police confirmed to me today that gangsterism continues to hold our communities captive across the Western Cape.
Complaints received first hand today in Gugulethu during a safety oversight walkabout show how interpersonal violence among youth has escalated. It has led to numerous deaths of youths over the past couple of years and has left the community to fear for their safety.
Youth participation in gangsterism seems to be so normalised that they even openly admit to being part of gangs in front of accompanying police.
What I’ve witnessed in Gugulethu is not an isolated incident.
The extent of the gang problem in the province is worsening with youths as young as 11years old not only joining gangs but also being responsible for increased violence in communities.
The scourge of gangsterism, drugs and gun wielding criminals not only affects the safety of our communities, but also service delivery in some areas as we have seen in Mitchell’s Plain yesterday.
The police in the Western Cape continue to be understaffed and under resourced rendering them incapable of dealing with these criminal elements, despite the best efforts of the dedicated men and women in blue operating in our communities.
This situation cannot be left to continue and requires everyone to do more than just their part.
We will not be successful in breaking down the culture of gangs, guns and drugs in our communities if we try to do this each as an individual, a political party, a sphere of government, a department or as the police in isolation from one another.
This is why the Western Cape government has called in the past for the deployment of the armed forces in assisting the police in peacekeeping to allow for the dedicated men and women in blue serving our communities to do the necessary investigations, and gain convictions on behalf of communities living in fear.
I applaud the silent majority across our province that is rising up, united against crime. As part of the outcome of the walkabout today, I will be back in Gugulethu in weeks to come to focus on opportunities for the youth. However, most welcoming this morning was the resilience of the people of Gugulethu who have undertaken to furnish my office with their feedback report from a community led solutions oriented meeting to take place next week.
While we were able to map out a clear way forward in Gugulethu this morning, communities across the province cannot continue to be appeased with empty policing promises, inadequate resource top-ups or temporary shows of force by policing top brass and national ministers.
It is necessary that the reintroduction of the promised specialised units be fully staffed and implemented across the worst gang affected areas. It is necessary for the police to reinstitute the reservists as the effective force multiplier they have been in the past.
I call on our communities to continuously work with the police and safety structures such as Neighbourhood Watches and Comunity Policing Forums.
Safety is everyone’s responsibility. We all have a role to play to ensure, Better Together, that those who live in fear and who have fallen voiceless are not side-lined by a criminal few in our communities but become empowered safety partners of government and the police.
Ewald Botha, Spokesperson – 079 694 1113