Police establish task team to eliminate gangs


Mangaung has recently seen an increase in crime allegedly linked to gang activity. School children have not only been victims of these crimes, but also the instigators. The Mangaung community was faced with the terrifying reality that their children were now involved in alleged gang activity. With horror stories of learners being assaulted, and sometimes killed on school grounds, parents looked to the police for help.
The police, together with the Department of Education, came together to work on removing gang-related activity in schools. Free State police spokesperson, Brigadier Motantsi Makhele, said: “Working hand in hand with the Department of Education we managed to eradicate gangsterism at school level. We saw it move into the townships, which led to residents wanting to take the law into their own hands.” Makhele said this has led to the police establishing task teams to ensure that communities do not take matters into their own hands.
The task teams are made up of the Tactical Response Team (TRT), detectives, crime intelligence and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks). Their main focus will solely be on bringing an end to gangs and gang-related activities in the province. The teams will be led by the Deputy Provincial Commissioner of Operational Services, Major General Eric Gela and the Deputy Provincial Commissioner of Crime Detection, Major General Jones Qhobosheane, who will in turn report to the new Provincial Commissioner of the Free State, Lieutenant General Lebeoana Tsumane.
Makhele said they are constantly engaging with parents through community police forums, educating them on how they can identify if their children are involved in gang activity and how to help them if they are. “We have advised the parents who are not bold enough to report their kids to utilise these forums to do so. And in that way the task team will know how to approach the kids in the correct manner, because sometimes they are trapped in those gangsterism activities and don’t know how to get out.
Makhele said those most vulnerable to be inducted into gangs are often school drop-outs and unemployed youth who have nothing to keep them busy. “The areas in Mangaung in which we realised the gangs are roaming around, were Freedom Square, Phase 9 and so on, but in the end we managed to bring calm into their midst. The team that has been established has started to show that there is stability in these areas,” added Makhele. The police encourage the community to report any gang-related activities and to give names of known gang members and their leaders to the nearest police station. Those with information should not fear reporting it to the police, as they can do so anonomously by calling the Crime Stop line at 08600 10111. – Seithati Semenokane