Hope of peace for Manenberg residents

| Barbara Maregele
Manenberg residents and police watch as leaders of rival gangs in the area agree to a ceasefire. Photo by Waheed Sookool.

Manenberg residents believe night marches by community members and increased police visibility helped to restore peace to the area this week.

Leaders of rival gangs in the Manenberg area agreed to set aside their differences and enter into a peace treaty at the weekend.

This follows several weeks of violence in the area where more than 15 gang related murders have been reported since December.

Last week, dozens of Manenberg residents of all ages joined a march through notorious gang turf to protest against the recent shootings.

Additional police and law enforcement officials have been deployed to the area to ensure the safety of students going to school in the morning and again when they return in the afternoons.

On Tuesday, members of the Manenberg Community Safety Forum held a brief meeting at the public library to report back to residents on the progress of the peace talks between rival gangs in the area.

The forum, along with self-proclaimed reformed gangster, Pastor Ivan Waldeck, and Nathanial Roloff, an American gang intervention specialist, have been mediating peace meetings between rival gangs since September last year.

The forum’s Rugshanda Pascoe said representatives of the Hard Livings, Ghettos, Clever Kids and Dicksies met on an open field in the area with residents and police present.

“It wasn’t ideal because these guys don’t like the police, but we are glad they came to an agreement not to shoot. The guys said they will stay on their own turfs until a final agreement is made later this week,” she said.

Pascoe said negotiations looked promising so far, but a lot still needed to be done to end the violence.

“Residents are angry. They want the leaders of the gangs to come and apologise to them for the violence. I don’t know if that will happen, but we are still in talks with them,” she said.

The forum’s Waheed Sookool added that during a recent visit to the area, MEC for Community Safety Dan Plato and MEC for Social Development Albert Fritz had agreed to meet the forum to discuss concerns raised by residents.

The City’s mayco member for Safety and Security,JP Smith, who initiated the School Resource Officers Project in the area last year, visited a number of primary and high schools on Tuesday.

In a statement later, Smith said a recent assessment of the project had shown a small decrease in the rate of dropouts and violent incidents at six schools.

“The Safety and Security directorate was awarded R4.5 million to assist communities in volatile areas like Manenberg. We are working on safe movement routes to and from schools across the metropole,” he said.

Smith said additional police officers were patrolling with the assistance of 110 metro police, law enforcement and traffic officials.

“We will maintain our presence in the area until such time as the situation has stabilised, to ensure learners can make their way to school without the persistent threat of being caught in gang crossfire,” he said.

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