Out of the 650 people arrested in Gauteng for gang-related crimes, only 30 were successfully convicted for the offences they committed.
Democratic Alliance (DA) Gauteng Shadow MEC for Community Safety Michael Shackleton said the figures were revealed in the provincial legislature.
“This information was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko in a written reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL),” said Shackleton.
“Innocent Gauteng residents continue to live in fear of their lives while their businesses are constantly targeted by gang groups.”
Shackleton said the police were failing to thoroughly investigate these crimes, resulting in a 5% conviction rate of those arrested for gang-related offences.
“Many cases are thus taken off the court roll due to a lack of sufficient evidence to assist in prosecution,” lamented Shackleton.
Mazibuko said from July 2019, some 650 suspects were arrested for gang-related crimes.
She said only 30 of the accused were convicted in terms of Section 9 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
Convicted gang members were found guilty of crimes that included dealing and possession of drugs, illegal mining, attempted murder, possession of firearms and ammunition, house robberies, business robberies, hijacking and theft of motor vehicles, theft out of motor vehicles, malicious damage to property and intimidation.
Mazibuko said the provincial anti-gang unit had put an end to the operations of the Discipline Gang in the New Clair/Newlands area.
This gang was involved in drug manufacturing, distribution of drugs, drive-by shootings, and intimidation of rival gangs in the area.
The MEC for safety said it was difficult to determine the existence of gangs as they move from one territory to another or go underground when one of their members gets arrested or sentenced.
Commenting from the shadows, Shackleton said: “The fact that only fewer convictions have been made compared to the number of arrests means that these gangs are continuing to terrorise residents and demonstrates that the provincial anti-gang unit is ineffective and failing, and there is an urgent need for effective intervention.
“The DA will continue to put pressure on both MEC Mazibuko and the Gauteng SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General, Elias Mawela to review the current strategy used to investigate gang-related crimes to ensure that they result in prosecution.
“It is the responsibility of the South African Police Service to ensure the safety of residents and to prevent gang-related crimes. More convictions need to be made but this can only be done through effective police intelligence and investigations.”
Shackleton said his party’s “continued pressure on authorities will ensure that in-depth investigations are made, and the safety of our people is prioritised”.