Newcastle pawn shops, scared parents and Osizweni youth gangs

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

“The more you dig the more you find”. This is a statement in media that over the years has yielded extraordinary results.

This rang true as the child gang issue continued with more elements and dynamics being thrown into the equation. As a result, various local community members have come forward stating that enough is enough.

Such is the extent of youth-based gang violence, a community member recently claimed that 12 gang members were killed over the past six months alone. Additionally, the source declared that the situation was causing severe problems in terms of general livability. 

With countless residents contacting the Newcastillian – Online News for an update on the said Gang activity within Osizweni, KwaZulu-Natal, our Editor sat down with the Osizweni SAPS spokesperson to get some answers. 

However, Osizweni SAPS spokesperson, Captain Sipho Nkosi explained that the situation was not as severe as rumoured throughout the community. 

“The gangs are still there, but the attacks between the Last Warning and the Juveniles have dropped. This is largely due to the Osizweni Police patrolling 24 hours a day, closely monitoring the situation,” he emphasised.

Furthermore, Captain Nkosi stated that the recent operation involving the Amajuba District Task team and Public Order Police in Osizweni has also contributed to gang members controlling themselves to a certain degree.

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Concerningly, allegations have also been brought forward by residents, stating that the said gangs are being armed and rallied by an ex-police officer and a local politician.

However, Captain Nkosi emphasised that while the police are looking into the allegations, at the moment, they remained unconfirmed rumours.

Yet, in his experience, the Captain stated that these young gangsters prey on school children and/or random adults, to the point that during school holidays, gang activity slows down. 

“These young boys are taking drugs, mostly heroin and nyaope, and to support their habits, they often target school children on their way home from school, or people waiting for transport to go to work.”

Not surprisingly, the gang members are also behind numerous house-breakings often selling their goods in Newcastle’s pawn shops.

“This is a problem, especially as the pawn shops that purchase the goods do not get the necessary details from the seller. They are supposed to ask people for their IDs, telephone numbers, residential address and a receipt proving that the seller had purchased the appliances legally,” explained Captian Nkosi.

Another major stumbling block faced by police was community members covering up for the gang members.

“These children live with their parents or grandparents, who know what they are doing. But they do not notify the police with the necessary information. Instead, they rather keep quiet or try to cover up for the gang members.”

When chatting with local residents, who support the Captain’s statement, one can imagine how difficult it becomes to flush out a virus like gang violence when family members protect them. However, this is often not out of love, but fear. 

“The parents or grandparents are usually too scared to come forward, because of the boys being involved in gangs. But people need to come forward for the police to effect the necessary arrests.”

In regards to arrests, Captain Nkosi stated that approximately 10 gang members have been arrested over the past six months. But, this is where another challenge arises. 

According to the Captain, when the offending gang members go to court, they are often released on bail, starting the entire process again.

“When the police approached the court to establish why the offenders constantly received bail, we were told that according to the South African Constitution, everyone had the right to bail, irrespective of the crime they committed,” he explained.

This, he pointed out, results in the Osizweni SAPS often rearresting the same people for precisely the same crime.

But despite these challenges, Captain Nkosi assured residents that the Osizweni SAPS were doing the best that they could. However, he said, “We are asking residents with information to come forward, as the SAPS and public are meant to work together to fight crime.”

What are your thoughts on the above-mentioned? Share your views in the comment section below. 

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