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How we're helping to combat Manenberg gang violence - Cape Town

JP Smith says joint operations between SAPS and metro police have proven successful, other initiatives are being implemented

Joint Metro Police and SAPS stabilisation operation in Mannenberg pays off

As part of our on-going commitment to creating a Safe City, City of Cape Town Metro Police Specialised Units and the South African Police Force (SAPS) continued with high visibility patrols and operations in the gang-infested Mannenberg area this last week. Nine suspects were arrested for drug-related offenses. One unlicensed firearm was also recovered.

We realise that Manenberg is a particularly challenging area in relation to gang violence. The reasons for the entrenched gang violence in the area include the development of criminal networks between prison and street gangs and the fight for gang, and therefore drug, turf. We see reciprocal shootings taking place once a gang-related killing happens and very quickly one revenge killing follows another. The killers most often evade successful prosecution and continue to operate.

The Metro Police Department works closely with the SAPS, who have the primary mandate for policing in across South Africa. It is the SAPS that have the means and the authority to investigate the gang murders taking place in Manenberg and other areas around the City. However, we have found that joint operations have been successful and we will continue working with the SAPS for the benefit of communities in the city. This past weekend we engaged the SAPS in further urgent planning of operations.

As a temporary measure to stabilise the community of Manenberg, the City has proposed the temporary expansion of the successful pilot project with the Western Cape Education Department to add School Resource Officers (SROs) to the schools affected by gang violence there. SROs are specially-trained members of the Metro Police Department who are assigned to specific schools on a long-term basis to identify and address the underlying problems which may lead to disorder, ill-discipline and crime, and implement strategies to overcome these problems to make schools and their immediate surroundings safer.

The Safety and Security Directorate is also planning to expand our Ceasefire programme, which has reduced gang violence in Hanover Park by 50%, to Manenberg. The objective of this project will be to reduce the number of gang related shootings and killings in the area, raise awareness, and promote public education regarding viable, realistic alternatives to violence. This includes challenging and providing alternatives to masculinities that promote ‘badness', carrying and using weapons and resorting to violence to prove manhood.

The programme includes community mobilisation, mass media exposure, and the deployment of ‘Violence Interrupters' and ‘Outreach Workers'.

These ‘Violence Interrupters' are recruited from the community and are required to engage with gang leaders and high-risk individuals, and will participate in mediation and conflict resolution.

The ‘Outreach Workers' are also recruited from the community, trained and deployed to provide identified high risk individuals with direct access to support services and to positive alternatives with a view to help them to get on, and stay on, a positive path.

High risk individuals within communities are those who are most likely to commit violent acts and killings and are often gang-affiliated.

The Executive Mayor has made funding available for this programme.

We will continue using all resources at our disposal, and to initiate innovative and sustainable programmes to keep the community of Manenberg, and all other areas of the city, safe. 

Since 2006, the City has moved from a position where it had no strategy on gang violence, to the current situation which has seen us developed a strategy that has both policing and social development components, with more than R24 million in dedicated expenditure.

Statement issued by Alderman J.P. Smith, Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, City of Cape Town, July 29 2013

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