Authorities have lost control of gang violence in Drakenstein Municipality

While adequate policing services are being provided on one side of the Berg River, police and the Democratic Alliance (DA) have allowed gang warfare to flourish on the other.

A turf war that has resulted in damaged police vehicles being taken out of service, houses being set alight, and escalating sporadic gang violence in the previously disadvantaged community of Paarl East in the Drakenstein Municipal region was brought to the attention of the Economic Freedom Fighters in the Western Cape.

The Chairperson of the EFF in the Western Cape, Bernard Joseph said that it has taken note of these growing concerns, including the allegations that the leadership of Democratic Alliance controlled Drakenstein Municipality’s only intervention thus far has been to hold one community meeting long after the violence had already spiraled out of control.

“Residents are being held hostage by raging turf wars between rival gangs in the area. It was brought to our attention that the management of the Paarl East Police station was fully aware of this gang problem when it began in the Chicago area some time ago but had grossly underestimated the escalating threat,”

“Last week the police had to fire teargas in the dead of night to keep two rival gangs in Magnolia apart. Two days later there were reports of stone throwing, and a day later shacks were set alight in Magnolia,” said Joseph.

Joseph said he was told that police knew about violence between the CKs gang and other groups, but failed to respond appropriately to growing concerns of residents. Police allegedly only acted when they became aware of similar gang activity between the Novas, Pitfitts and numerous other groups in other neighbourhoods. These gang members, mostly children, allegedly were and continue to be recruited and deployed by larger organised rival gangs in the area.

“This is gang war, and this is an arms race between rival gangs. Stones will become guns, and residents will be caught in the crossfire. Authorities must act decisively because so far this community has been abandoned by the DA,” said Joseph.

In light of the seriousness of this threat to community safety, Joseph suggested that Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula, provincial Police Commissioner, urgently address the matter.

“This concern was totally and grossly under-estimated by the station-command. The violence rapidly spread from Chicago to Magnolia and Amstelhof, as stone-throwing escalated to setting alight occupied homes, as the turf war slides out of the control of the police. These battles raged amidst police logistical challenges with vehicles that had been damaged in confrontations with gang members having to be taken out of service. These confrontations have become more frequent, and more violent.”

Joseph says these poor residents deserve the same level of safety and security, as the rich who are safely ensconced and comfortably over-serviced on the opposite side of the Berg River. He urged the Western Cape Department of Community Safety, the Office of the Provincial Police Commissioner, Paarl East Police station, and the Drakenstein Municipality to deploy every means at their immediate disposal to ensure the safety of those affected.

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