Young gun-toting gangsters and others armed with axes, stones, pangas, and knives are striking fear into people of Ireland, near Lower Crossroads.
Residents said they have sleepless nights worrying that their young sons will be the latest to be abducted or killed in broad daylight. They said despite ongoing abductions, and killings, police are failing to act, which prompted the concerned parents to turn to the media.
The parents said perpetrators of these crimes were boys and young men from an area in Lower Crossroads called 4.1.
It is believed that adult, grown up men use young boys referred to as “Malambane” to raid those who stay just across the railway line and kill them with stones and knives in broad daylight.
Parents who met near the railway line on Wednesday said the futures of their children were being stolen by “murderous gangs”.
The latest victim of the brutal attacks was a 16-year-old boy who was abducted last Thursday, June 4, and brutally killed, allegedly with mothers from the other side ululating.
Since 2018, said Funeka Mphakana, their lives had been “hell”, and she lays the blame with the police.
“On this recent incidents we called them and all they told us was they are rushing to the murder scene; this one is still alive. They told us to call them after he is dead. What response is that?”She said in another incident, a young boy had been hit on the head with a panga and when police arrived, the attacker was still there.
“He was metres away but they refused to arrest him. They told us they were not called by that side but by Ireland residents. In desperation we have even gone to seek assistance from the taxi owners and our councillor who did not give a hell about us,” she said.
Novangeli Nyanga said her house was stoned and window panes were broken and alleges that her son was suffocated at school and his books were taken by the Malambane group.
“Our children are scared to go to school. In fact, a lot of them are out of school because all schools are on that side. Young boys are now loitering because the law has failed them. Why are they not protecting children fails me,” she said, adding that residents had had numerous meetings with police, their ward councillor, and other parents but there has never been a solution.
Ward 35 councillor Mboniswa Chitha agreed that there was a problem – but said parents were part of the problem.
Mr Chitha said they had had meetings to try to resolve the matter, but in many instances, parents became too disruptive for the meeting to have a constructive outcome.
“We met with them to gather with the police. As mediators we wanted children to tell us the cause of this fight but instead parents came with their own issues. The solution is not easy. It lies with parents. They should come with their children and remain calm and be neutral,” he said.
According to the police, some incidents may not have been reported to them. However, they are aware of the two groups fighting.
Although residents said the conflict has been ongoing since 2018, Philippi East Police spokesman Captain Bheki Xulu said the fights started last year.
“Police, community structures, schools, CPF and Ward 35 councillor did engagements to mitigate the situation. An abduction case or incident was not reported to the police. Police were (told) about fighting where one of them resulted in death through stone throwing on Thursday,” he said.
Captain Xulu said police were investigating a case of murder and were consulting with parents in both communities. He added that two vehicles had been deployed to patrol the affected areas.