Athlone, like most other areas on the Cape Flats has been plagued by an ever increasing use, abuse and peddling of drugs. It has been reported that over 200 houses in the area alone are being used as drug dens. Authorities will now embark on joint operations to evict tenants living at council owned properties identified as drug outlets. The areas that will be targeted are Bridgetown, Belgravia, Bokmakierie, Silvertown, Kewtown and Crawford, where at least 20 drug houses per area have been identified.
The fight against the scourge seems futile but community policing forum (CPF) chairperson, Aziza Kannemeyer, says there are great successes but often it takes lots of work. Kannemeyer says the new plans by the City of Cape Town and SAPS to clamp down on drug dens will be drastic but it is action that needs to be taken.
“200 houses are homes of people and therefore it would be sad if the houses were confiscated. However it is not just a question of houses being confiscated I think that there is a process of engaging the tenants or owners of the houses, to get them to stop or get their tenants to stop with the illegal activity,” says Kannemeyer.
The City has had discussions with the CPF on the kind of lease agreements that tenants have in place with the council.
Kannemyer said the CPF are opposed to people just being evicted and left out in the cold given the huge housing backlog in the City.
“But I think the Council is trying to re-emphasis the specific clauses that are being contravened with this kind of behaviour,” she added.
She urged residents to be aware of the agreements of leasing.
“When one or other relative are busy conducting illegal activity, they are at risk of losing the place they live in.”
She advised residents to form a network in the form of a Whatsapp group, which has been very successful in spreading information.
“When a problem is picked up in one area the details will be circulated within the group and all those in the group will know what to be on the lookout for.”
She said the area was well equipped with an intelligence division under the leadership of Provincial police detective Captain David Damons. Subsequent rising levels of gang-related violence forced the creation in 2010 of a focused cross-departmental anti-gang strategy headed by Major General Jeremy Vearey, known as Operation Combat.
Operation Combat’s objective is to take down high-ranking gangsters in the province and prosecute them under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca) VOC (Imogen Vollenhoven)