Free State community living in fear over suspected gang violence

SABC News Arrest P - Free State community living in fear over suspected gang violence

Residents of Virginia in the Free State live in fear. Suspected gang violence has led to the murder of 24-year-old, Pule Klaas. Klaas was stabbed to death after he was accosted by six men in an open field on Thursday morning.

The Klaas family’s home was attacked a few hours before Pule’s death. His sister, Puseletso Klaas says they are deeply hurt.

“We are hurt and there is nothing we can do. We can’t get any assistance. This is not the first time a member of our family has been killed.”

Three years ago – seven gang members were sentenced to life imprisonment for gang-related offences. And this week – 13 suspects were arrested following recent incidents. Residents say they are terrified by the flare up of gang violence in the area.

“We are deeply hurt as residents because we are not part of the gangsters. But the problem is when they fight they come and destroy our homes. So we are now scared we cannot be free in our homes because we are constantly scared as to what will happen at night.”

Another resident adds: “As a community we are affected, we are not protected. We’ve got single mothers who are staying with their kids. And again you go to the police station to lay a charge. They return us home, we can’t eve open a case they don’t take our story. They tell us that if there’s fight this side they’ll come if they see a dead body.”

Soldiers deployed in the Matjhabeng Municipality for lockdown regulations enforcement will work with the police to restore order in the area.

“Members of SAPS with assistance of South African National Defence Force launched a manhunt for the suspect/s which led to the arrest of a 15-year-old suspect for this murder. On a separate incident, other cases emanating from these gang wars such as murder, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH) and malicious damage to property led to the arrest of 12 more suspects aged between 15 and 32 years which includes a 15-year-old arrested for Klaas’s murder. All the suspects will be appear at Virginia Magistrate’s Court soon,” says Free State Police Spokesperson, Motantsi Makhele.

Police continue to monitor the situation in the area.

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