Westbury residents decry the increase in gang violence in the area

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Residents of Westbury in Johannesburg have attributed the increase in gang-related murders in their community, to corrupt police officers who allegedly work with drug dealers. They claim that gangsters openly ply their trade as certain police officers protect them.

On Wednesday, two men, aged 19 and 39 were gunned down in the area. No arrests have been made.

Scores of disgruntled community members have now set up camp outside the Sophiatown Police Station. They are protesting against the increase in gang violence in the area.

Community leader Camry Jacobs says, “It is a disgrace. We want a reshuffle from the head down, we want a complete reshuffle in our police station. They are not doing their job and they are failing us; they are working with our gangsters and drug dealers in the community. So, we want a complete change. We want to see new faces, every three months new police must be coming in, we want a complete change at our local police station.”

The disgruntled residents of Westbury have vowed to continue to camp outside the Sophia town police station until police deal with the ongoing gang-related violence in the community.

The residents are demanding that Police Minister Bheki Cele urgently address their concerns

Jacobs says Cele should also immediately deploy a specialised task team to the area.

“We are demanding answers, we are demanding change because day in and day out we lose lives, and one life is one too many. So, we will be camping in front of the police station until we see the change and until they meet our needs until further notice.”

Former gang member, Mario van Wyk, has attributed the recent spike in gang violence to the high level of unemployment in the community.

He says since the COVID-19 pandemic, many residents who lost their jobs have now resorted to selling drugs to put food on their table.

“More guys are coming up and during COVID-19 people lost their jobs and their homes and income and people have lost family. So what happens now, for argument’s sake I would get some of my provident funds and I speak to someone and say look we going to struggle so we need to start doing this business and that’s how people begin and that’s how they start opening shops, they call it opening shops and you have it as your corner. That I would say is on the increase due to unemployment being a big contributor.”

Westbury residents demand that Minister Bheki Cele address them: