Kashifa Mohamed, chair of the Hanover Park Community Policing Forum, and Hanover Park activist Erica Casey paint a bleak picture after three members of the Loving Boys gang were sentenced at Pollsmoor Court.
They said the sentence for a prominent gang and drug cartel made little difference to the area devastated by the gangs and had little effect on the ground.
With unemployment and poverty fueling crime, more and more potential gang leaders are lining up to replace those who are sent to prison.
On Friday, July 14, Mikel Davids, leader of the Laughing Boys, was sentenced to five life sentences, while his brother Tyron Davids and Shamieg Matheson received three life sentences.
Monther January, the fourth accused, was sentenced to eight years in prison. January was not a member of the Laughing Boys, but he stockpiled weapons that were used to commit murders.
Reign of terror
The rulings stem from the gang’s terrorist rule at Hanover Park on Cape Flats between 2017 and 2019. Megamat Hendrix, Abdul Sattar Joseph, Bradwin Dominy, Sydney Molloy and Roshana Kader.
In July 2019, it was released South African National Defense Force It was deployed to assist police in gang hotspots on the Cape Flats. This came after a wave of violence that killed 73 people at the end of the first week of June 2019. Hanover Park was one of the areas controlled by the army.
In sentencing, Acting Judge Raadiyah Wathen Falken described the gang members as ruthless, placing no value on human life, and having driven the Hanover Park community to ransom through violent gang activities.
The Hanover Park community has experienced violence and fear that was rooted in the existing gang culture. Hanover Park has been a breeding ground for gangs, but many people have managed to move beyond their circumstances.
Kashifa Muhammad told Daily Maverick On Tuesday: “About the Laughing Boys gang, it sure makes a difference when you have criminals and murderers from our streets.
“However, my concern is that gang recruitment is happening very quickly in the neighborhood, so there will not be a shortage of gang members in the area even though many gang members have been killed or convicted.”
Another factor contributing to crime in the region is children dropping out of school and joining gangs.
High unemployment is another reason people turn to crime and join gangs to survive. Hanover Park does not have a gang problem. She has a poverty problem. She explained that many people are sleeping without food, no electricity… There are no off-mural activities for our children and youth.
Community activist Erica Casey pointed out social ills such as parents’ failure to enroll children who do not have birth certificates, and children as young as 10 not attending school because their grandmothers take care of them because their parents are drug addicts, drug dealers, or gang members.
“I know of some graduates who can’t find work. They apply for different jobs. They sit in the library every day hoping for a miracle. Poverty, unemployment and crime in Hanover Park are deteriorating,” Casey said.
Gang-infested areas have been declared in Manenberg and Hanover Park Red zones for emergency services After fatal shootings. But these areas were not among the major crime hot spots identified during the release of fourth quarter police crime statistics for 2022/23.
the The first three police stations The most reported murders were Umlazi in Kwazulu-Natal, with 68 murders, followed by Inanda in KZN with 64, and then Delft on the Cape Flats with 60 reported cases.
Convictions ‘will make a difference’
Imran Moghadam, one of the leaders of the Elses River community, believes the convictions will make a difference. According to Moqaddam, there is a link between prison sentences for high-profile criminals and a decrease in gang-related crime.
The sentences imposed by the courts seem to destabilize that particular gang. Those in line who are ready to take charge lack sophistication in terms of successful planning.
We have seen that a gang leader does not usually surround himself with people who can fill his place because those people are a threat to him. They surround themselves with pawns that they can dictate and control.”
The purpose of the law is deterrence — to send a message to potential criminals, said Martin Ewe, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Security Studies. He said such sentences send a message to potential offenders that they will suffer the same fate if they commit crimes.
Bosses are running gangs from prison
However, it has raised concerns that in most of these cases, the convicts continue to run their gangs from behind bars and are still considered leaders by the members.
Ewe said that while gang leaders can often afford good defense attorneys and get lower sentences, “if the courts are consistent and methodical in issuing these harsh sentences, it will have a somewhat deterrent effect.”
In some circumstances, he said, gang convictions languish at the removal of a person of interest, but in the world of organized crime, this is not always the case.
The Laughing Boys case was successfully prosecuted by Denise Greyling SC and Alfred Isaacs attorney for the National Prosecuting Authority.
After sentencing, Isaac said: “It has been a pleasure to serve and serve the Hanover Park community in our fight for justice, for justice for the deceased, their loved ones and the victims of these crimes.
“We should be thankful that our witnesses were kept safe before the trial began and during the trial, as the pre-trial investigating officer informed me that our witnesses were threatened that if they testified, they would be killed.
“Let our communities take back our territories by saying, ‘No more… We will not be afraid to testify in the courts against gangsters.'” DM