Police pilot safety plan to deal with gang violence in Westbury

The police in Gauteng are working on finding a solution to the ongoing gang turf wars in Westbury, Police Minister Bheki Cele has said.

Cele and Gauteng MEC for community safety Faith Mazibuko visited the area on Thursday and assured the community that effective measures will be put in place to fight crime.

“We will implement a temporary programme starting from today and [we will] be back next week [on] Tuesday, together with the MEC for community safety, to review if the programme has been successful,” Cele said.

“This community deserves better, and when that peace has been achieved, we will find ways of sustaining it going forward.”

He stressed that gang violence in the area was addressed in the past when safety measures were put in place in 2018.

The minister also challenged other government departments in the province to get all hands on deck and work together to stabilise the gang-infested area.

“We are aware that there are gangs in the area, Fast Guns and Varados, but we are looking at criminality beyond that, such as drug lords and young girls who form their own gang groups even at school.

“The police cannot do it alone. If we arrest those children, we will need to hand them over to the social development department [in the province].”

Members of the community refused to engage with Sunday World saying they fear victimisation.

“I do not want to comment where we are being watched. If we interact with the media, we will be targeted,” said a resident who did not want to be identified.

Mazibuko shared that a platform has been created for the community to share information anonymously, to which Cele agreed: “This format will bypass local procedures and [the information] will go to higher authorities.”

Meanwhile, Cele said he is not worried about being redeployed or chopped in the much-anticipated imminent cabinet reshuffle. 

“I did not apply for this job, I was called and appointed. if I get removed and someone else is placed [in my current position], they must do the job and life goes on for me.

“I did not participate in a stokvel for this job.”

Cele also said the police are working on a broader plan to respond to all communities affected by gangs and gun violence.

“Police are not supposed to be present all the time, they are there to create a stable environment. We will need to take a step back and work on the backlog of unsolved cases.”

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