Residents live in fear of teen thugs

04 Feb

An increasing number of pint-sized gangsters are forming their own gangs and terrorising the Flats.

And the teen thugs are targeting innocent commuters.

On Thursday three schoolkids appeared in court after they held up two terrified victims at gunpoint.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Gang experts say an alarming number of teenagers are now forming their own gangs in their own schools.

And some of these teen gangs this week faced off in bloody street battles armed with knives and pangas.

Our pictures show one teen covered in his own blood after he was attacked by a rival gang.

The incident took place in Khayelitsha on Wednesday.

Sources say almost half of the schools in the Harare area of the township are being overrun by the kiddie gangs.

“Of the 14 schools from the Harare side, six are affected by these gang wars,” local neighbourhood coordinator Mncedisi Sthonga, 44, tells the Daily Voice.

“We hear complaints from the community that they are being robbed and beaten by school children right on their doorsteps.

“We try and have them arrested, but because of their age [they] come out of jail quickly and return to threaten us.”

One of the teen mobs – who call themselves the Mavura Gang – is planning to strike back at their bitter rivals, the Mavathu Gang, on Friday.

Police are on high alert and were patrolling two of the neighbouring schools on Thursday.

One of the little Mavura gang members tells the Daily Voice: “We will bring our pangas and knives and we will fight.”

But the young gangsters are not just turning on each other.

A rising number of teen thugs are also terrorising commuters on their way to work.

On Tuesday police officers arrested three schoolboys between the ages of 16 and 18 after they held up two victims at gunpoint at Esplinade railway station.

One of the attackers took out a firearm as the others took out knives and then ordered the two commuters to hand over their cell phones.

They also viciously assaulted their victims with their weapons, before jumping out of the train while it was still moving.

Both victims sustained head injuries, and have since received medical treatment.

They were later arrested by cops and on Thursday appeared before Cape Town Magistrates’ Court.

The teen thugs will remain behind bars until they appear before court again next week.

Gang experts say an alarming number of schoolkids are getting sucked into gangs while still in the classroom.

“Children are joining gangs at school and they are being recruited from a very young age,” says Ivan Waldeck from Cape Outreach.

“Visit any prison and you’ll find that up to 85 percent of inmates come from a reformatory where they were first handpicked.”

But some youth workers insist it doesn’t have to be this way.

Community Development worker and community leader Gadija Francis works hard at alleviating school gangs in the heart of Delft.

And with the help of a programme called “The Youth Gang Intervention Unit”, Gadija says gangs could easily be a thing of the past.

Last year September, Delft high schools, Rosendal and Leiden, were thrown into the spotlight when two learners were brutally murdered.

Leiden High, which received a 85 percent Matric pass rate last year, lost Grade 9 pupil Masizakhe Mahlati after the teen was allegedly attacked with stones during an argument over cigarettes.

At Rosendal High, 15-year-old Sibebalo Nkenkqe was stabbed to death right outside his Leiden home during an argument over a stolen bag and cellphone.

Sibebalo’s killing was believed to be linked to school gangs in the area.

Gadija says intervention programmes are successful in combating gangs from forming.

“We do not want to push down to away, these programmes help so that there are no gangs forming,” she explains to the Daily Voice.

“We are hosting a camp this weekend and it forms part of the Youth Gang Intervention Unit and school children who are naughty are targeted.

“Leiden High school is a good example of this success after achieving an 85 percent pass rate for their Matrics despite what happened last year,” she adds.

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