Cape Town’s ‘war zone’: Daily gang shootings terrorise communities
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Cape Town’s ‘war zone’: Daily gang shootings terrorise communities

Cape Town’s ‘war zone’: Daily gang shootings terrorise communities

Law enforcement and police patrols were disrupted after officers were allegedly pelted with stones during a police operation in Grassy Park on Friday, July 5. PHOTOS: Supplied

  • Residents of Lavender Hill, Ottery, Grassy Park and Lotus River are facing daily gang shootings, turning their neighbourhoods into what they call war zones.
  • JP Smith, a member of the Mayco County Safety Commission, announced an increased law enforcement response but stressed the need for community cooperation.
  • Local leaders and organizations are appealing for peace and encouraging residents to report the shootings to authorities.

In a statement last week, Mayco County Security Deputy JP Smith described the situation as worrying after four people were shot at regular intervals.

“Lavender Hill and Ottery are in an unstable war zone,” he said. “Four people have been shot already.”

He added that maximum resources were being directed to those areas to contain the shooting. “We will help those communities as best we can, but we need the community to help us,” Smith said. “With so many incidents, it’s not possible that absolutely no one saw any of the shooters.”

Smith went on to describe how law enforcement officers came under fire during the Lavender Hill incident.

“The shooters blend into the groups, fire rapid shots, then disperse with the crowd as officers arrive.”

However, law enforcement agencies are working hard “in the firing line,” he added.

According to Smith, the situation in the area remains tense since law enforcement officers had to retreat while patrolling Grassy Park on Friday, July 5.

“Our law enforcement agencies have received a request from Grassy Park Police to assist with additional support personnel,” he said. “Shooting has resumed in the area. With the increased support, hostile areas have been patrolled with traffic stops and searches.”

However, during the search operation, the officers were allegedly pelted with stones.

“Law enforcement members defended themselves by firing rubber shotgun shells at the attackers,” he said. “This forced the attackers to seek cover, which allowed the police and law enforcement convoy to withdraw from the area.”

Rosemary Alexander, a patroller with the Buck Inn Neighborhood Watch in Lotus River, shared the real fear experienced by parents and children.

“Parents are afraid of what will happen when their children return to school,” she commented. “As a parent, you are very afraid.”

The last exacerbation

According to Alexander, the gang shootings broke out a month ago.

“They shoot every day and every night, it’s completely unnecessary because people are dying,” she said. “Children can’t play outside, and residents can’t sit outside, it’s dangerous even in our own homes.”

He claims that on Thursday, July 4, a man was wounded in a gang-related shooting through the window of his home.

“It’s so scary. We, the neighborhood watchmen, can’t go around and check if it’s safe because it’s dangerous for us too.”

Alexander praised the police for remaining visible despite the precarious situation.

“The police, municipal police and law enforcement agencies are working very hard.”

Grassy Park Community Policing Forum (CPF) Chair Melvin Jonkers has appealed to the community to support the police and not “impede” law enforcement agencies from carrying out their duties.

“Unfortunately, the days are long gone when children could be sent to the local store to buy much-needed bread and milk for the household,” he said. “We regret the loss of life and extend our condolences to the loved ones of the victims of the shootings.”

Jonkers added that ongoing gun violence causes unnecessary stress among residents, especially the elderly.

“Gun violence will never become the norm in our neighborhoods,” he said. “Our children cannot grow up and thrive in a violent environment.”

He called on social welfare agencies, churches and mosques to take a stand in the fight against crime.

“We cannot stand by and remain silent while an entire generation is lost due to lack of direction and guidance,” he commented. “Everyone in the community has a responsibility to do what they can to create a peaceful environment to live in, and that starts at home.”

Meanwhile, in a statement, Lotus River, Grassy Park Ratepayers and the Civic Association (Logra Civic) appealed for calm amid the chaos.

“Reports of ongoing shootings are being received, especially in the Ottery Flats area,” the statement read. “This cannot become normal for our community. We call on the peace-loving members of our community to raise their voices.”

The taxpayers’ association encouraged residents to come forward with information about the shootings.

“Think about the senior citizens who feel their stress levels increase every time shots ring out. Be brave and report weapons in your neighborhood.”