Fears of surge in Manenberg gang violence

Photo by Mary-Anne Gontsana

Mary-Anne Gontsana

11 December 2013

Some Manenberg residents are worried that gang violence has started again in their area, with two people allegedly shot and killed on Saturday.

The police say that the situation is still under control, but the Trauma Centre, a Woodstock NGO that also operates in Mannenberg, says many incidents are not reported.

In August, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Premier Helen Zille committed to taking steps to reduce an apparent upsurge in violence in the suburb. More police were deployed and since then the violence has subsided. Now, however, residents fear that gang fights are escalating again.

A resident who lives in Pecos Walk in Manenberg, who did not want to be named, said the fighting started on Friday. Then on Saturday, she claims, two people were shot dead. One of them belonged to a gang who call themselves the Jesters and the other belonged to the Americans. But the police have said nothing has been reported.

“Apparently the Jesters are working together with the Hard Livings to fight the Americans,” said the resident.

The Hard Livings and the Americans are two of the notorious gangs that have been responsible for much of the gang violence in Manenberg.

Kader Jacobs, a member of the Manenberg Community Policing Forum said the gang violence had toned down a bit but there was an increase in burglaries and robberies. “The units deployed in the areas are still here but we are worried about what will happen once they leave in January. We don’t know what the gangsters are planning. The gang violence is not like [a few months ago]. It has toned down, but you get the random gun shots now and again. What we have noticed though is that some of the gang members are testing the units that are on duty. For example, a shot will be fired just to see how quickly the units will react to it. There is an increase in robberies and burglaries though as we enter the festive season, but as the CPF we still do our patrols in the neighbourhood,” said Jacobs.

Police spokesman, Tembinkosi Kinana said: “This office has not received any reports relating to the incidents. The situation in Manenberg has not shown any signs of getting worse. As the police we are still maintaining a high visibility in all its areas to ensure that there is lasting peace.”

Sithembiso Magubane from the province’s health department said GF Jooste Hospital, which is a few kilometres from Manenberg, had not experienced any increase in patients coming into the hospital due to the gang violence in the area. The patient influx remained the same, he claimed.

Valdi Van Reenen-Le Roux, director at the Trauma Centre, which works in Manenberg said there have been shootings in the past two weeks. But, she explained, incidents go unreported because of fear and because people mistrust the police. She said that trauma counsellors have been stationed in the Manenberg People’s Centre, which is opposite where the Jesters are in charge.

“One of our trauma counsellors who lives in Manenberg said they could not sleep on Sunday and on Monday because of the continuous loud sounds of gunshots. Prior to the shootings, there was quietness in the area, but even then the community was worried that something would happen, and it has. Some of the gang members, male and female, very young, ride around on bicycles in the area with their guns in full view,” said Van-Reenen-Le Roux.