Shootings spook community

Residents during a public meeting on Monday September 12. In the middle is ward councillor Rob Quintas.

Two separate shootings in Hangberg in which two people were wounded have galvanised the community, with residents vowing to take back their streets from criminals and stop lawlessness in their midst.

Community worker Kevin Davids lives near Makriel Court where gunshots rang out on Saturday September 10.

He heard the shots and people screaming. While some fear gangsters were to blame, he believes the shootings were the work of youngsters courting danger.

“The youngsters often don’t realise how dangerous it is to handle a gun and the consequences of it,” he said.

A certain amount of mystery surrounds the shootings, who was injured and whether it was gang-related. However, multiple sources in the community referred to two people who sustained minor gunshot wounds.

But whoever was responsible, the gunfire has spooked the community enough to give it fresh resolve to tackle crime.

After a public meeting in Salamander Park with ward councillor Rob Quintas on Monday September 12, residents pledged to support police and security officials’ efforts to stop crime in Hangberg.

About 60 residents met on Friday and Saturday night last week to patrol the streets, said Mr Davids.

“The plan is to increase these patrols, but to do so we need the assistance of the community and we need to increase manpower,” he said.

Peace and Mediation Forum (PMF) secretary Warren Abrahams said lawlessness in Hangberg could not be pinned on gangsterism but rather a range of issues, including drug dens and brothels.

“The community has had enough of crime and will not tolerate the lawlessness any longer,” he said.

Beatrice Yon, who also lives near Makriel Court, said the first shooting had been in the late afternoon. She thought the shots were firecrackers but then realised they weren’t when she heard people screaming.

“After the shooting, the atmosphere in the community was very tense and when the second shooting happened in the early hours of the morning Sunday September 11, the people became scared,” she said.

Mr Quintas said that at the public meeting residents had warned that gang-related activities, drugs, poaching and dog fighting were growing in the area and adding to Hangberg’s woes.

He urged people to come forward with information so the authorities could act against these crimes.

Police spokeswoman Warrant Officer, Tanya Lesch said another public meeting was held in Hangberg on Thursday September 15 to address the crime situation there. Officers had also accompanied the community patrollers at the weekend and arrested 10 people, eight for drugs, one with a dangerous weapon and another for drunk and riotous behaviour.

“These patrols will continue to address the crime and improve the partnership between SAPS and the community,” she said.

Warrant Officer Lesch said police had arrested three men in connection with the shooting. They were charged with attempted murder and appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court last week. She could not confirm whether the shooting was gang-related.