Community outcry over denial of gangsterism

A screen shot of the show that aired on Sunday.

There has been a public outcry on social media networks following remarks made by a local cluster commander on popular investigative show, Carte Blanche, on Sunday, that gansterism does not exist in the area.

The insert that appeared on the show highlighted the increase in crime and the rise of gangsterism in the Durban South suburb over the years. Although the programme was supposed to bring awareness on the plight of the many families affected by gangsterism in Wentworth, it has left residents furious and have questioned the actions of Brigadier James Sayer, Brighton Beach Cluster Commander.

People took to social media to express their disbelief and disgrace at the statement made by the commander. Local councillor, Aubrey Snyman who did not appear on the show, voiced his disappointment. “The brigadier does not know our area. I have been living here for over 50 years and I can tell you now that gangs have been operating since the sixties. It is very disappointing to note that someone in a top position could make such a statement. It is utter nonsense and I will confront him soon about this,” said Cllr Snyman.

He added that back in the day there was no such thing as gun violence, but now firearms are being freely distributed in the community. The recent shooting of Tremaine Marais which is still fresh in the minds of locals was mentioned in the insert.

The shooting which occurred on Christmas Day  is believed to be drug-related. Twenty-two-year-old Tremaine Marais was believed to be on his way to a friend’s house when he was allegedly shot in the back during the shootout. Community member, Sheldon Francis, who scoffed at the no-gangs statement said, “The more they deny that there are no gang wars in Wentworth, the more we will lose young children because clearly the police don’t have those gangs under control.” Francis who is actively involved in the community has been running numerous programmes to help the youth choose a better path. “I have a Saturday programme for young children to teach them that life should not be about drugs and crime,” he said.

Another irate resident, business owner, Peter Moolman said, “It’s very disappointing when high ranking officers deny the existence of gangs. Brig Sayer has definitely hurt the confidence of the policemen that are trying their best to combat gangsterism. The community has now lost faith in the SAPS since his statement. People are being murdered and little is being done. If the cluster commander believes there is no problem, he will not set up any task force to deal with the issue. To be fair the Brig could also be a victim of watered down information from the police. However we interpret the situation it’s a matter of great concern.”

Carte Blanche presenter and journalist, Bongani Bingwa, who conducted the interview also shared his view on social network, Twitter. He tweeted, “The community of Wentworth has been gripped by fear – gangs rule the roost yet local SAPS say it’s all in their heads.”

Members of a popular Wentworth community group on Facebook aired their opinions. One distraught community member said, “I would like to know who called Carte Blanche and why was the community not called in to sit down with them. I am stunned that police commander said there are no gangs in the area. All these fights and shootings must be taking place amongst ‘ghosts’ then,” said the angry group member. She also raised a point about the many articles pertaining to the murders and gang wars in Wentworth. “So are they saying that every news article printed in the media is all lies?” Attempts were made to reach Brigadier James Sayer for comment, however they were unsuccessful.

For further information on the Saturday programmes, contact Sheldon Francis on 073-080-8319.

To view the insert which was aired on Carte Blanche, click here.



Lauren Beukes

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