Authorities in Cape Town may have just found the solution to one of their most troubling issues – gang violence.
At least some 80 people are said to be killed annually in the town of Hanover which has a population of about 45,000. The deaths are as a result of violence between rival gangs in the community.
But a local Non-governmental Organization, CeaseFire is seeking to change that. Established some some six years ago, CeaseFire works with former gang members to keep the rivalry among the gangs in check.
The organization which is funded by the city of Cape Town, uses specialized equipment and an app to pool information on the location of shootings in real time.
The success of the programme has also been partly due to the alliance CeaseFire has formed with former gang members like Nealon Peterson, who now work with them.
“Before the guys are going to fight, the leader of the gang will talk to me, and we will look at ways we can avoid the violence,” said Peterson.
The Director of the University of Cape Town’s Center for Criminology, Prof. Mark Shaw believes “there is no single way to respond to gang violence”.
For him, what CeaseFire does “is one way in which at least an attempt is made to engage with people in the gang system, and what better way to engage than with people coming from that system who have the connections, and to some degree the credibility, who can reach across the divide which the city would otherwise struggle to do.”
The NGO says it’s field data pointed to a drop in crime rate in the last quarter of 2015 by 26 percent.
But some politicians are a bit nervy about success chalked by the CeaseFire fearing their actions would rather give legitimacy to the activities of the gangs.