Crime has escalated in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth.
On Tuesday, Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla met ex-offenders who were ring-leaders for different gang structures.
He wants to get to the bottom of the gangster problem in the area and in prisons and during his visit, there was a gang-related shooting.
Colonel Pricilla Naidu of SAPS says, “A 28-year-old gang affiliate was shot at several times while he was walking down Beetlestone road in Gelvandale. According to police information, there were three suspects that shot at him. The suspects got into a taxi and drove off. The motive for the shooting is unknown and a provincial gang investigation unit is investigating a case of murder. The name of the victim is withheld as a next of kin is yet to be notified.”
Meanwhile, at the St Albans Prison on the outskirts of the city, the deputy minister met with officials including ex-convicts to try to combat the scourge of violence perpetuated by gangs in prison.
Makwetla says, “The problem of gangs in our Correctional Services was established and we had this problem here. We had a special meeting and the strategy is good. However, its implementation is not adequately done. It’s very poor, but it highlights the shortage of people that we have to deal with. We know we have a serious problem, but it won’t (disappear) overnight.”
At St Albans Prison there are only two centres that hold awaiting trial offenders.
Allegations of equality and special treatment were also highlighted on the deputy minister’s visit to the prison.
Regional Commissioner Nkosinathi Breakfast says, “There are levels of corruption. There is management and we are going to address these claims.”
There are currently 17 confirmed gangs operating in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth.
Collin Nxumalo, a gangster, says, “When you enter a prison you need to align with the right people or fall victim to the system.”
A former gangster, Miles Bhudu says, “There is a hierarchy; there is structure in prison.”
The task team established in 2016 has made some good inroads.
More than a hundred gang members have been arrested since its inception.