Gang violence has reared its ugly head in Osizweni, in KwaZulu-Natal.
The crime led to the deaths of six young people in the area recently.
Residents took to the streets last month, demanding an end to the trend.
They are concerned that more and more children could end up being part of gangs.
Police Minister Bheki Cele led a ministerial imbizo in the area on Tuesday.
National Police Commissioner General Kehla Sitole was also there.
He raised concerns that gangsterism in Osizweni is also affecting schools and about criminal activities in the local police station.
He says the imbizo was aimed at ensuring the protection of young people and the entire community.
Sitole says the SAPS national office is committed to working with the community to eradicate crime in the area.
He says they suspect the gangsterism that has plagued the area is part of organised crime that includes drug trade and human trafficking.
“SAPS wants to work with all departments, other organisations and the entire community.”
He encouraged the community to work with police, the community-policing forum and the youth to join programmes geared at empowering them.
Residents are worried that if left unattended, the gangsterism could lead to more bloodshed.
They accused the police of working with gangsters. They called for action on the matter instead of talk shops. They also want to be allowed to discipline some of the youngsters who are terrorising the community – a request, which is against South African laws. Taking the law into one’s hands is illegal in the country.
Some of the residents have suggested that the department of social development steps in and investigate why children are joining gangs and determine the kind of help they need.
They complained about having one police station, the lack of trust in the police, a slow response to criminal reports as well as shortage of police officials and vehicles.
Cele suggested that councillors hold meetings with the community monthly to discuss issues affecting their respective wards and update residents on programmes of the local municipality.
He urged parents to take responsibility of their children and train them well so that they become responsible community members.
Cele says school safety also needs to be prioritised.
“Children also must be safe from teachers. Teachers must stop impregnating young girls.”
The Minister says an inspectorate and the secretariat from his office need to probe the allegations levelled against Osizweni Police Station so that they can chart a way forward.
He says while there are rotten apples within the police service, some police officers are doing excellent work – urging the community to not only be hard on police officials but also deal with the corrupt elements within the society.