FOUR known gangsters have been arrested in the Helenvale area of Port Elizabeth over the past 24 hours as part of a police clampdown aimed at curbing gang shootings in the area.
A police task team, named Shukuma, which means “move”, arrested two men on Tuesday night and two others early yesterday.
Operation Shukuma was launched by police top brass on Tuesday afternoon and comprises various police units such as organised crime, dog unit, tactical response team, flying squad and the air wing.
Police spokesman warrant officer Alwin Labans said three gang members – aged 19, 25 and 27 – had been arrested for attempted murder after being linked to shootings which took place last month.
“All three are believed to have been involved in shootings of rival gang members. The fourth suspect was arrested only a few hours after the launch of the operation and is allegedly connected to the murder of Jerrozelle de Kock,” he said.
Jerrozelle, 19, was hit in the head by a stray bullet during a gunfight between rival gangs in Voisen Street, Helenvale. She had been on her way to a church youth meeting with three friends.
Yesterday, the air wing was called in to assist with the tracking of suspects, while the rapid-response flying squad stopped and searched vehicles and people.
“During this stop-and-search operation we were specifically looking for guns, weapons, drugs and possibly wanted suspects,” Labans said.
Since May 11, 12 gang-related shootings have been reported. Since the launch of Shukuma, no gang shootings have occurred.
Gang shootings, which flared up about two weeks ago, are believed to involve rival gangs wanting to “eliminate” each other because of pending court cases in which they are witnesses. Gangs are also fighting to protect their drug turfs.
“The community and the police have had enough of innocent people being killed in these gang wars,” Labans said. “We will flush them out and the only way to do this is by taking the zero-tolerance stance.”
Also yesterday, police reconstructed the crime scene where Bianca Julius, 11, was killed during a shoot-out in Ibex Road, Helenvale, in July 2009.
Evidence will be used in the High Court trial of Angus “Kaas” Jordaan and Sebastian Grootboom, both 22, who have been charged with her murder.
It is believed the bullet which killed Bianca was intended for her father, Gavin Minnie, who had previously testified in the killing of Aneclito Jenniker, 12, in March 2009.