Instead of the familiar echo of bullets, the sound of dozens of Manenberg residents chanting “Enough is enough” could be heard last night through the streets notorious for the recent spate of gang violence in the area.
Schools in the area were disrupted several times last year and forced to close their doors to ensure the safety of staff and students.
According to the social media group, Manenberg gangwatch, there have been more than ten gang related murders since December with even more shooting cases reported.
As students across the Western Cape return to classrooms today, Manenberg parents say they are concerned for the safety of their children, fearing they will be caught in the crossfire between rival gangs.
Police officers patrolling in Manenberg streets as students returned to schools today. This forms part of a two week initiative to ensure the safety of children in the area. Photo Supplied by Manenberg Saps.
According to the police’s Frederick van Wyk no incidents of gang activity were reported in the area this morning.
“We had about 50 officers conducting ground patrols in the area along with traffic patrols and law enforcement officials at each school. These patrols will be done for the next two weeks in the mornings [as well as] afternoons between 1 and 4pm,” he said.
Nearly 200 community members, including young children, took to the streets of the township late last night to call for an end to gang violence and shootings.
“We want to go to school,” shouted a group of young boys who were marching in front of the group holding up posters.
The group, accompanied by three police vans, made a point of walking and chanting through areas where gang activity is rife.
Community members filled the church in Manenberg Avenue last night to discuss ways to ensure the safety of children who start school this week. Photo by Barbara Maregele.
During the 30 minute march at 9:30pm, some community members stood in the streets while others leaned out of the windows of flats to watch the march.
Small groups of young people were seen standing on street corners.
“This is how we let the gangsters know that we are sick and tired of the shootings. We taking back our streets and we want them to know it. My daughter has started Grade 1 and I don’t want it to be spoilt by shooting,” said resident Wayeedah Abrahams.
The mother of two said the gang violence also made it difficult for people to go to work.
Abrahams’s six-year-old daughter, Haisa, who attends Rio Grand Primary, will have to cross a field notorious as a gang battleground.
“When they shoot, the taxis refuse to come into Manenberg and we can’t get to work. We also scared to walk because we might get shot. These gangsters shoot during the day. They don’t care,” another resident shouted.
Earlier, about 300 residents attended a meeting called by the Manenberg Community Safety Forum held at the Anglican Church in Manenberg Avenue.
Members of the forum have been involved in peace mediation with rival gangs over the past few months. They have been running weekly meetings for the past six months in the community to address violent crimes in the area.
At the meeting last night, concerns were raised about the safety of children going to school this week.
A request was made for all parents and grandparents to walk with their children to school to ensure their safety.
However, concerns were raised about how effective this plan would be and how long it would last as some parents left for work early.
The Forum’s Rugshanda Pascoe said it was time for residents to take the initiative and show the gangsters they’ve had enough of the violence.
“These are our children, our neighbours, our family that are now involved in the gangs. We as a community can’t keep turning a blind eye. Our children’s education is more important than whatever they [gangsters] are fighting for,” she said.
Pascoe said they could not depend on police solely for protection.
“The police told us they have a safety plan in place [for today], but we haven’t seen this plan yet. We know they usually show up when there is already a body lying on the ground. I’ve seen how police have moved out of the way for gunmen,” she said.
An elderly resident, Randall Erol Snipper, also expressed his frustration, describing incidents where his five-year-old granddaughter ran and hid under the bed every time she heard gun shots.
Source : GroundUp