Provincial MEC for police, roads and transport, Butana Khompela has warned that society will not be held to ransom by gang members, and vowed that the department and the police would stop at nothing to squash gangs intent on unleashing a reign of terror in neighbourhoods.
Khompela sounded this caution in the aftermath of suspected gang violence that flared up in Bloemfontein on Wednesday, which resulted in the death of two people people. The altercation allegedly involved three notorious gangs known as the Romans, Born to kill, and Triple Six.
According to a statement issued by Captain Zweli Mohobedi, one man was fatally stabbed near Petunia High School in Heidedal. Another, a tavern owner, was assaulted and later burnt to death in Phase Four location.
Mohebedi confirmed both as murder cases, stating that the state will treat them as separate cases as they do not have sufficient information to connect the cases to these alleged gangs or one another.
The incidents forced schools in Mangaung to shut down, prompting Komphela to condemn this interruption of learning and reiterate that the provincial government would not allow groups of juvenile delinquents to disrupt life in the metro.
“We are not going to hesitate to weed out anyone who is a menace to society. People have a right to live in peace; women and children must feel safe on the streets, at their homes and at work.
“The province cannot and will not allow young people to rule and terrorise communities. No one is going to dictate terms to us or the ordinary people in the community. Those who are part of these gangs will be arrested and no mercy will be shown to them as the law takes its course,” added Khompela.
He disclosed that his department had deployed a team of officials and law enforcement officers to engage with communities and other stakeholders with a view to bringing order in the city.
Khompela condemned the Heidedal incident which saw a suspected member of the Romans gang stoned and stabbed to death by a mob of angry community members.
“I am shocked at this incident as we have continuously been urging communities to report incidents of this nature to the police instead of taking the law into their own hands. While we understand the anger of the community in this case, they should have left the police to deal with such matters.
“Those gang members who have been taken in will not be given bail; they will remain in police custody until they are sentenced. This is a matter not to be taken lightly, therefore a strong message will be sent to criminals who do not have respect for the constitution and the lives of others.”