Residents unite against violence

* Hangberg Peace and Mediation Forum chairman

The stabbing of a Rastafarian man in Hangberg last week proved to be the last straw for the community as they mobilised to bring the alleged culprits to book.

Hangberg Peace and Mediation Forum chairman Jan Lewis said a “gang” of five or six young men aged between 16 and 18 had been terrorising the harbour precinct in the past few months, robbing residents and tourists at knifepoint and in some cases even stabbing victims.

“On Monday last week (November 19), one of the local Rastafarian men was carrying his baby on Salamander Road when he saw some of these guys wanting to rob a fruit and veg seller. When he told them to get away, one of the guys came up to him, took out a knife and slashed him across his stomach,” Mr Lewis said.

“As he fell to clutch his stomach, his child fell to the ground. At the time, I was with the fire victims at the sports centre, but as I made my way down Salamander Road, I ran into his wife who gave me all the information.”

The man was rushed to Victoria Hospital where his wounds were stitched. His child was unharmed, Mr Lewis said.

“After he had been taken to hospital, I decided that I needed to meet with the Rastafarians about this incident, but the broader community also wanted to assist because they have had enough of these young guys. Everyone is having problems with this gang.

“On Monday afternoon, some members of the community went to The Zone (at the top of Salamander Road) and saw one of these laaties. He ran away, though, so I decided to call another meeting for 8pm. At that meeting, I couldn’t believe how many people turned up – there must have been 200 people there.”

At that point, Mr Lewis said, a resident mentioned they had heard that one of the suspects was with his grandfather in one of the blocks of flats.

“Everyone then went up to the block. They wanted justice, but the laatie’s grandfather did not want to let him out the house, fearing the community would kill him. At that point, the police were called.

“A heavy police contingent descended on the scene and arrested two of the suspects who had been in the flat,” Mr Lewis said.

“As a community, we’ve had enough of this gang. I think the actions of the residents will send out a strong message that their crimes will no longer be tolerated, although there is still a lot of work to do in respect of getting rid of crime in the harbour. But they now know the community is watching them. My hope is that the community keeps this momentum.”

Hout Bay police spokesperson Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch confirmed the arrests.

“Two arrests were made after a stabbing occurred in Hangberg. The Rastafarians from Hangberg assisted SAPS in locating the suspects. The victim was transported to Victoria hospital and underwent an operation. The suspects are still in custody,” she said.

“The allegations that the suspects belong to a gang are being followed up and all cases will be linked.”