Pubdate: Fri, 07 Apr 2006
Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)
Copyright: 2006 Cape Argus.
Author: Candice Bailey


Experts close to the action believe a battle for territory or the
desire for revenge are behind the latest flare-up of gang warfare in
Hanover Park, which has seen seven gangsters murdered and left the
community terrorised.

Residents, crime experts and community leaders have put forward
suggestions that the conflict may be linked to a fight for drug trade

This could have even begun in prison and then resumed on the

Another theory is that some top gangsters released from jail,
including Abduragmaan Engel of the Americans, may be seeking revenge.
Engel's brother was killed some time ago.

Since the conflict broke out, three suspects have been arrested and
five guns have been confiscated.

Among the seven people killed were two local soccer players, raising
the question of the role of gangsters in sponsoring local soccer teams.

Anti Crime Forum chairman Llewellyn Jordaan explained: "It's about ...
power and control over turf. The more control a gang can have over a
particular community, the more viable it becomes for them.

"Things have been quiet for two years but authorities have
underestimated the impact of the gangsters on their

"You can't divorce drugs from gangs.

"The emergence of tik had us asking when the next fight over territory
and turf for this drug was going to take place," he said.

Jordaan said it was important to remember that the culture surrounding
gangs had become more sophisticated in the past two years.

"Their hits have been targeted and specific. It's seldom that you find
wild shooting."

He says street gangs have built up their strength and become a force
to be really reckoned with.

Jordaan said the Americans had spread all over the Western

It is estimated that the Americans, a grouping controlling smaller
gangs, has 5 000 members.

But Jordaan warned against underestimating their rivals, the Ghetto
Kids or any other gang, as it all depended on the alliances that they

It is such an alliance that a spokesman for the Hanover Park Community
Police Forum, who did not wish to be named, fears.

"It is an unpredictable situation. These guys are reverting to new
tactics and they are sending in outside assistance. The tactics are

He said the warfare also meant that smaller gangs in Hanover Park -
the Nice Time Kids and the Mongrels, among others - were being forced
to align themselves with one of the two feuding gangs, the Americans
and the local Ghetto Kids, which made the situation more volatile.

The spokesman disagreed with Jordaan that the killings were turf wars
and said revenge was the motive.

One of the top Americans had an "old feud" and his friends had been
pressing him to "sort out his business".

Jordaan said the formation of The Firm, an umbrella body controlling
gang movements, was crucial, because gang bosses had felt the brunt of
the violence.

Commenting on the fact that two of the men who had died were local
soccer players, Jordaan said gangsters had managed to infiltrate and
corrupt all sectors of society.

Community safety MEC Leonard Ramatlakane said police had increased
resources for an operation to stabilise the area.

"Those conflicts have to be stopped. Hanover Park has to be

"Police are now going to intervene and stop people from wielding
firearms in public. Police will deal with the situation firmly." 
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