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Bheki Cele promises police task team to address Northern Areas gang violence

By Afikile Lugunya - Dec 4, 2018
Bheki Cele promises police task team to address Northern Areas gang violence

Police Minister, Bheki Cele, who visited the Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday following an outcry about the resurgent gang violence that has so far claimed many lives in the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth, promised, tough action to ensure local residents feel safe again.

Cele was accompanied by National SAPS Commissioner, General Khehla John Sitole.

The visit also came just days after a 10-year-old boy was shot in the cheek and a teenager was injured after being caught in the cross-fire when rival gang members started shooting at each other in Gelvandale.

There have been calls for government to being in the army to address the gang violence as police seemed unable to disarm the fighting gangs.

Cele said that a task team will be formed to tackle the gang violence. However, he refused to get into details about how the task team is going to operate.

There were also members from local gangs that were at the venue of the meeting - however, Cele refused to engage them.

He said that the task team will be formed by the local police.

Cele’s walkabout in Gelvandale and Helevale to meet stakeholders over gang violence postponed

Cele and Commissioner Sithole’s planned walkabout around Gelvandale and Helenvale – the areas most affected by the violence, ended up being cancelled.

The Minister said that the reason was because the Northern Areas community had not given an indication that they are ready to engage with him.

Apparently arrangements had to be made with the community to make the tour possible.

When asked if the same interventions made in the Northern Areas would be made in the other townships to reduce crime, Cele indicated that in the African townships, gang crimes were not as rife as in places liked the Northern Areas.

"Historically, we have done a lot in the townships and when the tasks teams are operating, they will not just sit even when there is crime reported in the township; they will be available where needs be," he described.

It’s not the first that government has attempted to intervene in the Northern Areas.

Then Police Minister, Nathi Nhleko, once visited the Northern Areas and promised law enforcement agencies will intervene immediately to deal with gang violence and drugs.

He also oversaw the launch of Operation Lockdown.

Despite the SAPS' anti-crime effort making some successes in combating gangsterism and other crimes, particularly in Gelvandale and Bethelsdorp, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Bay said more needed to be done as things were getting out of hand.

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