Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
4 minute read
1 Oct 2018
9:41 pm

PICS: Cele listens to violence-torn Westbury, meeting set down

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

Residents highlighted various issues which they said government had ignored, including a drug turf war, and police colluding with drug dealers.

Residents in Westbury block roads into the area and running battles with police throwing stones and petrol bombs following the killing of a woman last week in an alleged gang related incident, 1 October 2018. The community are demanding a meeting with Bheki Cele. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Residents in the violence-torn Westbury vowed to not back down today until Police Minister Bheki Cele addressed the community – and they got their reward.

The Ministry of Police has issued a statement that General Cele will meet the community at 11:30am at the Westbury Recreation Centre.

The community’s vow was despite the provincial police department agreeing to investigate allegations of police corruption and address their concerns over rampant drug related crimes.

Residents in Westbury block roads into the area and running battles with police throwing stones and petrol bombs following the killing of a woman last week in an alleged gang related incident, 1 October 2018. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

“The ANC government doesn’t care about coloured people,” a member of a crowd on Fuel Road was heard shouting as South African Police Service (Saps) and metro police nyalas patrolled the area.

Officers intermittently fired shots in retaliation to bottles and rocks being thrown at them from across the road.

Residents highlighted various issues which they said government had ignored, including a drug turf war which has seen at least 40 people killed this year, according to some residents.

Community members also accused police in the area of colluding with drug dealers and accepting bribes and said the ANC government had abandoned coloured communities.

People run as residents in Westbury block roads into the area and running battles with police throwing stones and petrol bombs following the killing of a woman last week in an alleged gang related incident, 1 October 2018. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Spokesperson for SAPS Gauteng, Brigadier Mathapelo Peters, said provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Deliwe de Lange was looking into the community’s accusations of corruption at Sophiatown police station and had moved certain officers out of the station until further notice.

“In response to the community’s allegations of police corruption and involvement in the protection of drug dealers, we have sanctioned an urgent internal investigation to investigate these allegations,” said De Lange.

“Three members from Sophiatown police station have subsequently been moved to different environments as a precautionary measure, pending the outcome of the internal investigation.”

Police arrest people as residents in Westbury block roads into the area in running battles with police throwing stones and petrol bombs following the killing of a woman last week in an alleged gang related incident, 1 October 2018. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The protest was sparked last week by the death of a 41-year-old woman in a hail of bullets which left her 10-year-old daughter injured.

The incident was an alleged drive-by shoot-out involving rival drug dealers, but residents who spoke to The Citizen believed the woman was shot deliberately and not as an innocent bystander.

De Lange said police have been maintaining a high visibility in the area since the shooting incident.

By late this afternoon, at least four people had been arrested for public violence.

Residents in Westbury block roads into the area and running battles with police throwing stones and petrol bombs following the killing of a woman last week in an alleged gang related incident, 1 October 2018. The community are demanding a meeting with Bheki Cele. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

De Lange thanked the community for coming forward with information which led to the arrest of two suspected drug-dealers.

“More arrests can be expected as the multi-disciplinary task team established by the provincial commissioner continues with the intelligence-led investigations,” he said.

Westbury residents were seen looting at least two shops as the protest surged metres away from the blocked and abandoned streets of Newclare.

Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said several people were hit by rubber bullets after protesters began throwing rocks and debris at police.

Police fire rubber bullets as Westbury residents block roads into the area in running battles with police throwing stones and petrol bombs following the killing of a woman last week in an alleged gang related incident, 1 October 2018. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

While some members of the crowd claimed that nine people had been shot by rubber bullets, some of whom had been hospitalised, Minnaar said he could not confirm this.

simnikiweh@citizen.co.za

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