During the past couple of weeks, a number of police officials, including from the Hawks, were brutally gunned down. The murder of these dedicated police officials is a loss for each South Africa and we pay tribute to some of them in our article published from p 40-43 of Servamus: April 2020.
This short series of articles, published from pp 18-23 in Servamus: April 2020, explain the role of legal professionals, including advocates and attorneys; the role of the family advocate and the role of the sheriff.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
Photos by Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp
Imagine seeing death even before you are old enough to go to primary school. This is the story of many a child living in gang-ridden areas across South Africa, such as an 11-year-old youth from Hanover Park. "I hid behind a wall. When the noise stopped, we saw a man lying on the pavement. Everybody went to look, so I did too. There was a lot of blood coming from his head. His eyes were this big, just open and staring. 'Die gangsters het hom sat gemaak' (the gangsters killed him) because he was stubborn and acting tough on their turf. He was my friend's brother. I remember his mommy cried a lot after that, ... I don't like guns. They make me scared. When I see the gangsters run, holding it by their sides, I run the other way. I don't want to die. I want to play soccer, finish school and get a job" Petersen (2019c).
By Kotie Geldenhuys
When members from the 26 and 28 number gangs engaged in a battle during August 2018, it caused havoc at the Pollsmoor Correctional Centre. Mattresses were set alight to prevent correctional officials and the police from raiding a cell. Inmates barricaded the doors, attacked officials with boiling water and sticks and also threw liquid on the floor to keep them out. It was a chaotic situation, but finally the reaction team managed to break through and defuse the situation. After 58 inmates had been removed from the cell and transferred to the remand detection facility of Pollsmoor Correctional Centre, 13 self-made knives and eight cellphones were recovered from that cell. Almost a week later, fighting between and among the gangs flared up when a member of the 28s stabbed a fellow 28s gang member resulting in both being admitted to hospital. The following day gang members of the 26s ambushed eight members of the 28s, stabbing and assaulting them. On 19 August 2018, a gang leader from the 26s was assaulted, stabbed and robbed by his own gang (Francke, 2018).
By Kotie Geldenhuys
Selected photos by Joseph Chirume and Shaun Swingler/GroundUp
In a country where there is limited trust in the authorities, many communities welcome vigilante or mob justice groups that promise to stop gang violence and other crime in their areas. The theme was even highlighted in an Afrikaans television drama about gangs that create fear in a community. In one scene a police member who lived and worked in that community was equally aggrieved about the ongoing gang violence resulting in him taking justice into his own hands and eliminating some of the gang members himself. The fact that mob justice was highlighted in a drama made us realise how frustrated people are with the escalating crime in the country. Although this incident was part of a television drama, the reality is that people across the country are so enraged about crime that they take the law into their own hands.
Gangs: Recruitment often starts with children - being forewarned is being forearmed
Compiled by Annalise Kempen
Imagine a 12-year-old primary schoolchild peddling drugs at school for a gang! This is not a scene from a Hollywood movie, but information that was revealed during an interview with gang unit members in the Eastern Cape who explained that gangs were expanding their operations by also recruiting schoolchildren to help them push drugs into schools. This was apparently happening across Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) and other Eastern Cape towns and it was not out of the ordinary to see children as young as 12 years old being part of a gang. Gang bosses are exploiting the fact that younger gang members are more trigger happy and more likely to evade arrest because of their age (Wilson and Van Aardt, 2019).