Manenberg schools reopen, police gang hunt intensifies

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Police efforts to hunt down Manenberg’s gangsters intensified today (MONDAY) when the area’s 14 schools reopened but learners still walk about in fear.

At least ten police vehicles blocked Gamtroos Road in Manenberg to search a house suspected of being a hideout for gangs and guns. A police helicopter also hovered above the house as residents curiously observed the drama unfold.

“There’s nothing in that house. Just an elderly couple,” said a woman who did not want to be named.

At the same time, the area’s teachers held a public meeting attended by Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman. This meeting was held at Phoenix High School where the principal and learners said they were still traumatised.

School principal Shafiek Abrahams said “over the past ten weeks there has been gun shooting” in Manenberg. This is reportedly linked to the release from jail of a notorious gang leader.

Abrahams said his staff “couldn’t cope” and was among 14 schools that were closed last week. The schools reopened today after the provincial government sent in extra law enforcement officers to guard schools.

Fransman said today that police minister Nathi Mthethwa had also sent in police officers to assist in monitoring the area.

Abarahams said they were “apprehensive” to return to school today because “it’s really tough for us”.

“We are happy that we have extra security personnel. That was a sigh of relief. We felt a bit safe even though we heard shootings again this morning,” he said.

The school’s grade 12 learners said they were preparing for their final high school exam amidst trying times.

Chenica Witbooi said: “Many innocent people’s lives are put in danger. When I go to sleep at night I can hear gunshots. This also makes our school unstable.”

“One of our school’s pupils was buried on Saturday. He was on his way home from his friends when he was shot.”

Her classmate Yumna Johnson said gang violence was “robbing us of our education and freedom of walking around”.

“What’s the point of this? It affects our education. Our timetable has been affected because not everybody can attend class every day because of the shootings,” said Johnson.

Learner Gillian Gilbert said they were “too scared to trust or talk to anyone”.
“You don’t know what to expect. Anything can happen even when you walk down the road,” he said.

Fransman said he and trade union Cosatu representatives wanted to meet with the teachers to “do an assessment” of the situation. He said they were also “very concerned about the publicity stunt of (premier) Helen Zille”.

Fransman was referring to Zille’s announcement on Monday that she would divert R6-million from the provincial education department budget to fight gangs in Manenberg.

“We are saying don’t waste money when it comes to schools and books and teachers salaries. She (Zille) can’t tell us from which line item this money comes. Don’t dare touch money that’s supposed to be for schoolbooks and teacher’s salaries,” said Fransman.

He added: “There is enough money in (the provincial department of) community safety. We have identified R10-million that can come from its coffers.”

Fransman said the provincial government should “work with the national police, not against them” and “stop funding NGOs that work with gangs”.

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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