'Police pulled from gang war to squash ANCYL battles'

12 September 2017 - 12:50 By Aron Hyman
ANCYL president Collin Maine. File photo
ANCYL president Collin Maine. File photo
Image: Tsheko Kabasia

Police members of an anti-gang unit were allegedly told to withdraw from Manenberg in the midst of a gang war to “sit in the shade” at the ANC Youth League birthday celebrations.

On Saturday the Cape Flats suburb awoke to find bodies lying in the streets.

Violence escalated again on Sunday afternoon but police were ordered to withdraw from the area to help prevent two ANCYL factions from fighting at the event in Nyanga‚ where ANC presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma spoke.

“We were told at around 3 pm to go and we sat there for about 20 minutes. We were monitoring the radios the whole time. We were literally standing on a corner in the shade while members [in Manenberg] were being overrun‚” said a source in Operation Combat‚ the anti-gang unit within the Western Cape police.

He said they eventually responded to their colleagues' cries for help in defiance of the order to attend the event.

Manenberg community policing forum chairman Abdul Kader Jacobs said the unit had been deployed to Manenberg but police officers were withdrawn on Sunday afternoon.

Western Cape police denied that any members were withdrawn from Manenberg on Sunday.

Dlamini-Zuma was the main speaker at the 73rd anniversary celebration of the ANCYL‚ but there was dissent from some members who are against the youth league's endorsement of Dlamini-Zuma.

ANCYL Western Cape provincial chairman Muhammad Khalid Sayed said the police anticipated violence at the event because of a press conference held on Sunday by “three disgruntled” members of the youth league.

“They were expecting that and we appreciate the police for coming because the event went very smoothly‚” said Sayed.

“[The disgruntled members] were saying that we as the youth league leadership have no right to endorse Dr Dlamini-Zuma.”

Two of the seven people who were shot at the weekend in Manenberg died.

City of Cape Town executive director for safety and security Richard Bosman said that ShotSpotter - a network of listening devices that register gunshots - was activated 41 times over the weekend.

“Of these‚ 20 of the activations were multiple gunshots‚ 15 were single gunshots‚ and six have been classified as firecrackers that were set off‚” said Bosman.

Police said a 16-year-old boy and a 29-year-old man were killed on Saturday around 6 am.

“At 11:05 a 52 year old woman was shot and wounded in both legs in cross fire during what is alleged to be gang shooting. She was transported to hospital for treatment. Cases of murder were opened for investigation‚” said police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana.

Jacobs said on Sunday they were not surprised when officers had left.

“There could be flare-ups in different places but we didn’t know why they were withdrawn‚” he said.

He said the fighting was a result of turf wars as the Hard Livings gang teams up with smaller groups to push back against the surging Americans.