Bishop Lavis community protests against gang violence

More than 100 community members participated in a protest against gang violence. Photo by Mzi Velapi

Bishop Lavis in Cape Town saw four youth shot this past weekend. The community came out to protest gang violence and police inaction this Tuesday, 12 February.

Chanting “Enough is Enough, Genoeg is Genoeg, Amandla Ngawethu,” community members, activists and school children protested outside Nooigedacht Primary School in Bishop Lavis this morning. The protest at the intersection of Robert Sobukwe and Bocherds Quarry follows the shooting of four people outside Pink Flats over the weekend. According to the South African Police Services, four people between the ages of 17 and 23 were shot in Bishop Lavis over the weekend, leaving two fatally wounded while the other two were taken to hospital.

Victor Altensteadt from the Bishop Lavis Action Group, BLAC, said that they want the full implementation of the Proceeds Of Crime Act. “If the police search the premises of those who are involved in gang-related activities then they must take the assets away,” he said. In his address to the protesters, Altensteadt also said that if the police see someone with gang tattoos then they must immediately arrest the person.

“We also want base camps and the deployment of the Tactical Response Team units in hotspots around the City. We want the Cape Flats to be declared a disaster area,” he said.

Bishop Lavis and surrounding communities have been protesting against gang violence and poor policing with the formation of BLAC in August 2017. Last month at a stakeholders meeting attended by Bheki Cele, community activists called for a summit to be held to address crime and other social ills affecting the community and try find solutions.

“We also want a public works programme that will pay a living wage. The Extended Public Works Programs should pay a living wage,” said Altensteadt.

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Learners from Nooitgedacht Primary  school opposite the Pink Flats where the shooting happened have been affected by the violence. Photo  by Mzi Velapi
Learners from Nooitgedacht Primary School protesting the violence affecting their neighbourhood where four youth were shot this past weekend. Photo by Mzi Velapi

Learners from Nooigedacht Primary school opposite the Pink Flats where the shooting happened lined up against the fence inside the school yard in support of the community protest. According to Altensteadt, two learners who go to the school and stay at the Pink Flats were among the witnesses to the shooting. The Department of Education, according to the MEC’s spokesperson Jessica Shelver, organised counselling for those learners who were affected.

Local residents who took part in the picket said that they are tired of gang violence that has ravaged the community. 58-year-old Amelia Jacobs who has been living in the area for 41 years said that when the gangs fight each other, the school grounds are especially unsafe. “The school becomes their centre-stage when they shoot at each other and risk killing innocent children. We are sick and tired of this,” she said. “When the police come to search, they always go to the wrong houses and leave the drug houses alone,” said Jacobs.

Community members say they have enough of the gang violence in Bishop Lavis. Photo by Mzi Velapi
Community members say they have had enough of gang violence in Bishop Lavis. Photo by Mzi Velapi

“Sometimes I don’t go to work because of the gang shooting and that is the case for most people here,” said 20-year-old Mickayla Schoeman. “The problem is lack of police visibility and we feel that our area has been neglected.”

The police say that cases of murder and attempted murder have been opened for investigation and detectives are in pursuit of the suspects.

The Bishop Lavis Action Group according to Altensteadt is planning a shutdown of the area on the 20th of March.

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