Last week, a fed-up Hanover Park community took to the streets and blocked the roads into the suburb in protest against gang violence.
According to a Groundup report, protesters blocked entrances to Hanover Park, holding placards saying “Our children’s lives matter”, “This mom has had enough” and “lives not knives”.
They used rubble to block streets, forcing vehicles to use alternative routes while chanting, “enough is enough”.
The protesters said police were never around when shooting is happening in the area, but here they are during a “peaceful protest”.
73 year old pensioner, Maureen De Vries, lost her stepson and her grandson to gang violence and nearly lost her son.
“I’m fighting for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” says Maureen, who has been living in Hanover Park for over 30 years.
Even during school holidays, she says, the children cannot play outside. “We want to walk freely.”
A distressed Mansoer Arendse said that “the whole world is deaf to what is happening here”.
“We’re pleading for help and if help is not going to come, we have to defend ourselves because we are dying,” says Mansoer.
His 19 year old son was stabbed to death in gang related violence. He does not know if anyone has been arrested.
Arendse, who is now 44, was born in Hanover Park. He says that growing up he could play in the streets, but his children can’t do the same.
This is not the first time Hanover Park and other areas with high rates of gang violence have been shut down by protests.
In 2018, residents blocked streets in Bonteheuwel, Bishop Lavis, Kensington and Hanover Park.
This led to President Cyril Ramaphosa announcing a new gang task force, which was launched in Hanover Park.
The gang unit had however been affected by infighting within the Western Cape Police Service.
The Western Cape police commissioner, Khombinkosi Jula, is widely thought to be at the centre of these fights and the dysfunction of the Police Service in the Western Cape.
It was reported that Commissioner Jula, who was also accused of hiring friends and family in high level positions, has been asked to vacate his post by July 15.