Police reinforcements have been sent to Manenberg in Cape Town after a flare-up of gang violence in the area that has resulted in five murders.
The Western Cape community safety department deployed its Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (Leap) officers on Saturday.
“The unit will further capacitate and bolster the operations led by the Anti-Gang Unit (AGU) and metro police, which is aimed at curbing gang violence in the area,” Reagen Allen, spokesperson for community safety in the Western Cape, said on Sunday.
Manenberg, an area of poverty, substance abuse and unemployment, is notorious for violent gang activity. Although there have been periods of relative peace in some areas, the latest murders have led to flare-ups between the Hard Livings and Clever Kids gangs, and between the Hard Livings and Fancy Boys.
According to a resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the murder spree was started by a Hard Livings member, whose name is known to the Mail & Guardian and who was released from prison in 2021. He allegedly killed two young men last week who were being recruited as Clever Kids members.
The motive for the killings is unknown at this stage, but the murders of the young men prompted a meeting of gang leaders, and more murders followed, leading to the deaths of two more gang members.
Fuelling the renewed conflict was the fatal shooting of Naeem Benjamin, the alleged leader of the Clever Kids in Manenberg, who was shot in the neck on Saturday afternoon.
Benjamin, 41, who is known as “Linky”, was found guilty alongside gang boss Faeez “Faizy” Hendricks, 50, of the murder in 2019 of Angelo Davids, an alleged Hard Livings member.
Both men successfully appealed their convictions and were released from prison in November last year.
Benjamin’s funeral is expected to take place on Monday afternoon.
Although Manenberg is not listed in the top 10 crime hotspots in the province, there has been an upward trend in violent crimes over the past decade. Crimes involving murder and attempted murder worsened in 2011-12 and 2020-21, by 220% and 261% respectively.