Cape Town – Cape Flats activist Roegshanda Pascoe believes the Organized Crime Prevention Act (POCA) is not being used effectively to help reduce the high incidence of gang-related shootings in recent months.
Over Easter weekend, for example, an 8-year-old boy was shot in the head, another innocent victim of gang rivalry. More than 500 murders were reported in the Western Cape in the first nine weeks of the year.
“The whole of Cape Flats is under gang warfare and it is mostly in the drug field. The sadness is, yes the police are trying, but where the state has failed when it comes to safety and security is they know who the drug dealers are. Why don’t they profile these guys and get them to book? Pascoe told the Cape Times.
“Under POCA, gang leaders can be charged for the crimes of their soldiers because they give the orders. A soldier cannot get a gun without the permission of the leader, so the leader must take responsibility. “
According to senior police detective Major General Jeremy Vearey, however, identifying a “gangster” and securing a conviction is not easy, even if they have a gang tattoo on their body.
Last week, SAPS, the Anti-Gang Unit, City Police and Department of Community Safety were called to the Western Cape Legislature’s Community Safety Committee to explain what was being done to curb the rise of gang violence.
The POCA dealt specifically with what constituted a gang member, and judges relied on certain requirements to decide on a conviction and sentence, Vearey told the committee, TBEN reported.
Two of the conditions can eventually result in the death of the gangster himself or his immediate family: for example, admitting membership in a criminal gang and being identified as a gangster by a parent or guardian. Obtaining a gangster conviction often requires careful and long-term intelligence gathering by the police.
“In all of the cases dealt with so far in the Western Cape, we must first prove that the gang we are introducing is a criminal gang. It is not enough to say that it is a gang,” Vearey told the committee.
“There is an alternative governance and economy that gangs provide these communities … Most of the time when we get there (crime scene) nobody wants to talk, and they never talk.”