ANC has no plan to deal with gang violence in NMB – John Steenhuisen

DA spokesperson says SAPS need proper equipment, training and adequate staff to protect the people

Failing ANC has no plan to deal with gang violence in Nelson Mandela Bay

9 October 2018

Today the DA visited the family of the murdered Gelvandale teenager Zavier Jassen. After our meeting with the Jassen family, we met with the commanders at the Gelvandale police station to talk about the challenges they experience policing the gang-ridden northern areas of Nelson Mandela Bay.

Zavier was seventeen years old and a learner at the Gelvandale High School. He was gunned down last week Wednesday close to Kobus Road in Gelvandale, Port Elizabeth, in gang-related violence. Last month in neighbouring Helenvale, gang crossfire claimed the lives of 32-year-old Franklin Grootboom while he was walking to the shops, and 28-year-old Jesican Charles in the street outside a friend’s house.

Young people like Zavier, Franklin and Jesican are bearing the brunt of the illegal drug trade and senseless gang-violence that besets many neighbourhoods across South Africa.

Crime has been sky-rocketing in Gelvandale over the course of the last few years. Just last year, attempted murders increased by almost 18%, common assault by 47,7% and rape by 34%. With 265 attempted murders last year Gelvandale now occupies the top of the list of police stations with the most attempted murders in the country. The 2017/18 year also saw 67 murders occurring in Gelvandale – that is more than one murder a week.

The SAPS need proper equipment, training and adequate staff to protect the people, but they are not receiving these needed resources from the ANC national government. That is why the DA has called for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) be deployed in Gelvandale and other gang-ridden areas across the country to assist the police.

The DA’s call for the army to be deployed to gang hot-spots does not mean that the soldiers should take over the job of the SAPS. Rather, the army should be there to help with blockades during SAPS operations; escorting government service providers such as emergency medical services and protecting infrastructure such as railway lines.

We have also launched a petition to call for a DA-led government that has a plan to overhaul our police service so that it is honest and professional, so we can feel safe in our homes, at work and on the street.

The challenges faced by the SAPS in Gelvandale, just like the challenges faced by SAPS in other gang-ridden areas in Nelson Mandela Bay and across the country, can only be placed at the feet of the failing ANC government. Our communities have become war-zones as a result of their neglect.

The DA welcomes the deployment of anti-gang units to Hanover Park in Cape Town. Finally, the ANC government has heeded the DA’s call for a specialised anti-gang and drug unit.

It is, however, a pity that so many people had to die and so many communities had to take to the streets before the ANC listened to the DA and the people of South Africa.

This cannot be where it ends, these units must be deployed to all gang-stricken communities and Minister Bheki Cele needs to prioritise creating an honest and professional police service that works for all South Africans in every province.

A DA-led government has a plan to prioritise the safety of all South Africans and to create an honest and professional SAPS that are effective at bringing down the very high levels of crime in our communities, to keep South Africans safe.

Issued by John Steenhuisen, DA Team One South Africa Spokesperson on Crime, 9 October 2018