Hangberg calls for help to curb drug war

Community and religious leaders have called for interventions such as increased policing and a “return to traditional family values” as a bloody drug turf war takes hold on the streets of Hangberg.

The turf war between two rival factions came to a head on Sunday April 23 when a shoot-out resulted in one man being hospitalised after a bullet grazed his head, and his nephew’s vehicle coming under heavy fire.

This man claims that his uncle’s gang, commonly referred to as “The Firm” had mistaken him for the shooter, but insists he had nothing to do with the incident.

Community leaders say the turf war is making the streets unsafe for every resident, particularly on weekends when alcohol and drugs fuel the levels of violence.

Speaking exclusively to the Sentinel, the shot man, his head covered in bandages and who only wanted to be identified as “Tin Tin”, said the turf war had been simmering for years but had now boiled over.

The diminutive man was recently released from prison where he served time for housebreak-
ing.

He explained that on Friday April 21, a scuffle had broken out between rival gang members, but no shots were fired. On the Saturday, his friends had been drinking the whole day, but he didn’t want to do so himself, he said.

“We had seen one of our rivals driving around the whole day. He looked like he was seeing what we were up to.

“My group drank in the garage we use until about 5am on Sunday, before I told them that they needed to go home because I wanted to lock up.”

Shortly after Tin Tin entered his home, he heard several gun shots ring out.

“I quickly left my house and went around Salamander Park, which is locked at night. There I ran into another one of my friends, but he told me not to worry. He told me another of our friends had been testing his gun.”

At that point, Tin Tin returned to his home in the hope of retiring to bed. However, it was not long before he heard gunshots again.

He went to investigate a second time, but on this occasion he was left in no doubt as to what was happening.

“I saw three guys being dropped off in the road, and then they opened fire at my friend’s house. When I went there, there was another team standing in the garden. Basically I was caught in the cross-fire as my friend shot
back.

“One of the shots hit a piece of concrete, but another one grazed me on the back of the head. I was down on the ground, and I could hear people around me. Some of my friends came running towards me, and took off their T-shirts to wrap around my head to stop the bleeding.”

Tin Tin openly admitted that this was an issue around “smuggling”.

However, according to the man’s 22-year-old nephew, who did not wish to be identified, it was members of The Firm who targeted him, apparently as a result of a confrontation on the Friday.

The young man, still visibly shaken in the sparse surroundings of his flat, recalled that he had been walking up Rodevos Road on the Friday morning, when some of his uncle’s friends drove past, bumping his elbow with the side-mirror of their vehicle.

“One of the guys then asked me if I took him for a * **s. He then hit me, and they drove away. I wanted to make a case against him, but my mother told me not to because of my family (uncle).”

On Sunday morning, he also heard gunshots and left his flat to investigate.

“I heard shouting in the road, then the next thing this bakkie comes round the corner. I quickly ran back to my house and got in my car, but they started chasing me. They were blaming me for my uncle being shot.”

The man then attempted to flee in his vehicle, and drove to the Heights as fast as he could, with the men in pursuit.

“They were on the back of the bakkie, and some of them were waving pangas. When I got to the Heights, they opened fire. I managed to get out of my car and run away, but they shot my vehicle to pieces. There are bullet holes all over my car.”

The man said he was confused as to why he was being blamed for the shooting of his uncle, but was fearing that he would be targeted again.

“Now with the smuggling, people are fighting about anything and shoot for anything.”

Hout Bay police station commander Colonel Khuthala Nebhisi confirmed that police had opened an attempted murder docket.

“We appeal to the Hangberg community to come forward with information that can lead to the arrest of the perpetrators. We cannot take this case forward un-
less people are willing to assist
us in gathering evidence,” she
said.

“It is no good saying that people are dealing drugs. They need to sign a statement detailing who they suspect of stealing drugs so we can obtain a warrant to obtain that person’s premises. The identities of those who come forward will be protected.”

Pastor Philip Frans, of the Hangberg Neighbourhood Watch, said the rampant levels of drug dealing were creating an “unsafe environment”.

“These groups don’t care where they shoot. You have people walking around in the streets, kids are playing in the park, and they don’t know whether they will be hit by a stray bullet,” he said.

“We need to bring our leadership together so they can talk to these groups. I think we need to have a serious clampdown on crime over weekends when these incidents mostly occur, and then more visible policing during the week.”

Another local church leader, Pastor Jacobus Mathews, attri-
buted the rise of drug dealing in the area to “dysfunctional famil-
ies”.

“The mothers and fathers of Hangberg need to start working a team for the sake of their family. They need to make sure that there is discipline in the home and their kids don’t hook up with the wrong people,” he said.

He said there needed to be more responsibility to the community and environment.

“When I was growing up, if I was naughty I was given a hiding by a neighbour. If I then went to my mother and told her what had happened, she would give me another hiding.

“Now we are in a situation where a neighbour can’t touch another person’s son, but it is the son who is engaging in crime. We need to take responsibility for each other in this community so our children don’t end up as drug dealers.”

Imam Mogamad Shahied Salie, of the Majied al Bahrain mosque, agreed.

“If we want to stop this crime, we need to have better parental skills at home,” he said.

“We provide the classes for this free of charge, but the community is not making use of them. Yes, we need extra (policing) force in Hangberg to rid the area of dealers, but it all starts at home. You can’t have kids wandering around at night, where they are exposed to temptations like drugs.”