'You look in your child's bed and you find empty bullets' - Cape Town residents block road in anti-gang protest

Residents of the Cape Town suburbs of Kensington and Facreton blocked a major arterial route during rush hour on Friday in a desperate attempt to get national government to pay attention to gang violence in the area.

"You look in your child's bed and you find empty bullets lying on the bed," said one woman, speaking on condition of anonymity during the protest about 10km east of the city's CBD.

She said this happened after gangsters opened fire on houses during what appears to be a heated dispute between rival gangs.

Fed up and afraid, residents got together under the auspices of KenFac Action for Change and blocked part of Voortrekker Road and another route during rush hour to get the attention of the government.

"We call the police and they say they can't come. They even say it is too dangerous.

"If you ask the police, and they can't come out, what are we supposed to do?" she asked.

She said protesters had vowed not to burn tyres or damage property, but they wanted attention paid to their demand for increased visible policing, a crime prevention unit and a specialised gang unit for the area.

Zainulabideen van der Schyff, chairperson of the Kensington Community Policing Forum, said they had not organised the protest, but were fully in support of it.

"It has been a peaceful engagement. I am very proud of the residents," he said.

Van der Schyff said there had been at least five shootings in the area this week alone.

In previous incidents, innocent bystanders had been caught in the crossfire, including a dental worker who was shot in the leg, he said.

He added that scholar transport and anybody on their way to a doctor or hospital were being allowed through the picket line, and that traffic police had cordoned off the area.

Western Cape Metro Police chief Kenny Africa confirmed the road closure and said motorists would have to find an alternate route.

Provincial police confirmed that around 70 residents blocked off 18th Avenue and 4th Avenue as part of a peaceful protest from 05:15.

Captain FC van Wyk said they asked the group to disperse, which they did around 10:00.

He said the group engaged with Kensington police management, ward councillor Helen Jacobs and the community policing forum executive.

"They requested a number of things included more resources. They gave Kensington management up to Wednesday at 16:00 to respond."

A case of convening a gathering without notice or adequate notice was opened for investigation.