PALAPYE: Scores of delinquent youth who have formed violent gangs continue to terrorise villagers here.
These troublesome movements, named after notorious groups such as Boko Haram, Sharia and others, are said to be brutal and ruthless.
The villagers, with the assistance of Police and the Special Support Group (SSG) have in the past managed to quell the gangs and peace was restored. However, these efforts were short lived as some former Sharia gang members who now reside at the Dikabeya and Lechana lands, have now formed their own gangs known as C8 and C9, respectively.
The rival groups C8, C9 and their parent gang Sharia, were caught up in a brutal mass brawl at Boikago Ward and Extension One (Ext 1) that left some individuals nursing serious injuries.
They used dangerous weapons like machetes, grass slashers, knives and other metal objects.
Mmapula East councillor whose area also houses Extension 1, Boikago and Dikabeya wards, Mphoentle Kabelo, confirmed that members of these gangs are from Boikago Ward and Extention 1, but live at Dikabeya and Lechana lands.
“The gangs usually fight over illicit dealings, protecting each group’s members or settling scores when some of their members are assaulted by rival gangs. They disturb peace in the village and we suspect they are responsible for crime in the village,” she said.
Extension 1 residents recently converged at the local kgotla to deliberate on how to address the gang problem besieging the area.
One resident, Kgololo Wanki, said they are worried about their safety.
“I barely sleep. I used to have a dog but they have killed it. It has become the norm to hear screams of people shouting for help when they are stabbed and robbed of their belongings.
You can’t walk the streets of this ward at night. We suspect that the gangs are responsible for these illicit activities,” he said.
Another resident who is also a church minister, Jobe Isaacs, said that church leaders in the village no longer do their duties at night because they are worried about their safety.
“As church leaders we are supposed to coordinate activities such as night vigils but because of our dangerous children our movements are now limited. There is a border at the railway line (Between Ext 1 and Boikago ward) and have learnt that when you cross the gang groups can attack you,” Jobe said.
Jacob Mpofu, also a resident of Extension 1, admitted that they know the perpetrators but cannot report them for fear of victimisation.
Kgosi Kebatsholetse Ralecha pleaded with parents to desist from over protecting their children when they have broken the law.
“It is not the first time to discuss the very same issue (gang activities). It is hard for the police to assist when parents are not willing to come forward and report the perpetrators,” he said.
A representative from the Palapye Police, Assistant Superintendent, Molemi Seitei said the police are aware of the violent groups and have already apprehended some of them, while others are still on the run.
Seitei pleaded with parents to work hand in hand with the police to curb crime.
“Some villagers frustrate investigations in an effort to protect the criminals, who could be their friends and family.
This makes our work difficult. At times investigations drag on for a long time thus allowing criminals to continue terrorising villagers,” he said.