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Sakhiseni Nxumalo
Senior journalist
3 minute read
23 Jun 2022
06:05

Newcastle residents in KZN fear panga-wielding gangs

Sakhiseni Nxumalo

Residents in Osizweni and Madadeni in Newcastle are once again being terrorised by two rival gangs in the area who walk around in large groups carrying pangas and knives.

Residents in Osizweni and Madadeni in Newcastle are once again being terrorised by two rival gangs in the area who walk around in large groups carrying pangas and knives.

The gangs are called “The last warning” and the “Juveniles” and consist of boys aged between 12 and 20.

According to the terrified community, the war has resulted in several pupils being unable to go to school and people being robbed on their way to or from work.

This is not a new phenomenon, as the community was subjected to the same terrorism by the gangs in 2020.

National Police Minister Bheki Cele held an imbizo in the area at the time, where communities called for the tightening of police control, as more than 20 people had been killed.

During the imbizo, the community begged for help and this captured the attention of Cele, who then conducted a three-day clean-up operation in the area.

During the operation, police arrested more than 200 people, some of whom were wanted for serious offences.

According to the community, the situation had been relatively calm in the last few years, until last month when it suddenly flared up once again.

One of the residents, who asked not to be named, said the situation is very tense, as many fear being outside at night as they are robbed and attacked by the gangs.

A resident said:

“One would think that these gangs are fighting each other, but no, the thing has sped up and everyone now is living in fear. So I reside in the areas that have ‘Juveniles’ but I go to the school where ‘The last warning’ resides. I will be in danger and will be assaulted with pangas and that is why many don’t go to school now. Also, people get robbed daily on their way to work or from work.”

Another resident, Samkelo Masango, said more police should be deployed in the area to curb the issue before it escalates.

“Last time, the police reacted late and already many people had died. Police should be redeployed here again because we cannot survive in such an environment where we are subjected to fear,” he said.

Newcastle Municipality deputy mayor Musa “Sugar” Thwala said the council was fully aware of the issues and there were plans to arrange a meeting with communities affected to address the issue.

Speaking to The Witness, Thwala said this was scary and serious and had the potential of destroying the community.

He said the most concerning factor was that crime was increasing.

Thwala said he also encountered the gang in his ward 28, in Madadeni section 5 last week before midnight.

Thwala said: 

“I saw a group of very young boys carrying pangas, knives and other dangerous weapons…we can’t therefore take it lightly. We can not sit back while this thing is killing our town. People are living in fear, especially those who are travelling to work very early. They are a soft target.”

He said the matter was going to be included in the next municipal council meeting as an urgent matter.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said they had conducted some operations in the area three weeks ago and the operations are ongoing.