Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The police want the law changed so they can deal more effectively with rising gang violence.

In a presentation to the police committee in Parliament, police officials on Wednesday identified the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal as the main trouble spots for gang-related violence. The South African Police Service said the fight against gangs had been ramped up, but existing laws would need to be fine-tuned to enable the police to intervene more effectively.

The presentation to Parliament coincided with the release of the Urban Safety Reference Group’s State of Urban Safety Report in SA — a consolidated study of the most dangerous cities in the country.

Lt-Gen Fannie Masemola said: "The phenomenon of gangsterism in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape is a major cause for concern ... as it poses a major threat to society."

At 73, the Western Cape led in terms of the number of gangs identified by police. The police identified up to 15 gangs in the Eastern Cape that operated from Port Elizabeth’s Bethelsdorp and Gelvandale.

The police also identified six gangs in KwaZulu-Natal’s northern and southern regions. There was a high concentration of gang activity in Wentworth, Phoenix and Chatsworth, he said. Masemola said the police made 3,892 gang-related arrests in the Western Cape from April 2016 to July 2017.

In the same period, the police confiscated drugs with a street value of more than R78m in the Western Cape.

ANC MP Leonard Ramatlakane said the results of the strategy against gangs were laudable, but the police had more than enough legislation at their disposal to make more inroads in their fight against gangs.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the police were pegging their chances on focused prosecutions, guided by investigations.

Altogether 67 cases were already under way, said Masemola.

He said 1,072 convictions were achieved from 3,325 reported cases, which led to 2,345 arrests in Wentworth.


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