Court faces reality of gang crime

A NOTICE board filled with newspaper articles and another showing pictures of victims of gang violence adorned the courtroom yesterday, where three suspected gang members applied for bail.

Police sniffer dogs were brought into the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court before proceedings kicked off under heavy police guard.

Wendell Petersen, 27, of Holland Park, Graven Greeff, 25, of Heath Park, and Hans Jordaan, 30, of Bloemendal, face charges of attempted murder, possession of illegal firearms and public violence following a shootout at the Total garage in Stanford Road on March 22. It is alleged the three – from opposing gangs – tried to kill each other.

Gang Investigation Unit commander detective Mike Grobler said the accused would go to any lengths to ensure they were not prosecuted. "They will lie, intimidate and even murder the witnesses."

Pointing to the pictures of victims of gang shootings, including that of Luchen Pieterse, 5, who was shot dead on March 24, Grobler said gangsterism was so out of hand in Port Elizabeth's northern areas that it had received attention at national level and was being discussed in parliament.

Commenting on the numerous newspaper articles – which he had displayed in the court – he said the media had noted the increase in gang-related incidents. - Kathryn Kimberley

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