Sipho Mabena

By Sipho Mabena

Premium Journalist

Community tell MEC of fear of criminals working with police

Residents accused police of supplying criminals with ammunition and doing nothing to stop the scourge of crime in the area.

The community of Marite in Mpumalanga has been gripped by fear of criminals they claim are working in cahoots with local police in a reign of terror.

This was revealed following the Public Participation Programme (Imbizo) called by MEC for Community Safety, Security and Liaison, Vusi Shongwe, on Saturday.

According to the department, it was clear that the community was living in fear of criminals to the extent that most of them were even scared to speak openly and opted to make anonymous submissions.

“Most of those who attended the gathering opted to register their issues anonymously through complaints boxes that were provided at the venue,” spokesperson Moeti Mmusi said in a statement.

ALSO READ: Mpumalanga chief killed by gunmen while waiting for car tyre to be fixed

Police involvement

He said some of the issues the community decried were that criminals were doing as they pleased and police in the area were not doing much to solve the crime.

“They went on to allege that these criminals were provided ammunition for their illegal firearms by the police. Some of the issues that emerged include high levels of contact crime cases such as murder, assault, business robberies, car hijacking, and house robberies,” Mmusi said.

Communities also complained of armed robberies targeting delivery vehicles such as bakery trucks and courier vehicles and the targeting of businesses owned by foreign nationals by heavily armed criminals.

ALSO READ: Family of four shot and killed in Piet Retief, police arrest one suspect

“We cannot afford to live like this. We must develop a clear programme of action that will respond to the issues in the area. All units in the security cluster must be coordinated in such a way that wanted suspects are caught,” Shongwe said.

He said this level of criminality in Marite could scare potential investors, calling on the community to work with the police and promised not to rest until the situation improves.

Urgent interventions

The MEC instructed the Provincial Head of Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation or the Hawks, Major General, Nicholas Gerber, to immediately investigate all allegations of corruption levelled against police.

He said few corrupt police officers, once identified, must be taken out of the police service.

Shongwe also welcomed the pledge by the traditional leadership that unoccupied government houses are to be reallocated to other people, saying this will prevent the hijacking of the houses for criminal activities.

The MEC also came hard on the traditional healers alleged to be helping criminals evade arrests and prosecution, urging them to refrain from cleansing crime suspects but instead, help the police bring them to book.

Shongwe told the besieged community that a special Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) meeting will be held in the next seven days to specifically deal with crime in Marite and the whole of Bushbuckridge.

The meetings are chaired by the MEC on a quarterly basis and comprise participants from the police, SA National Defence Force (SANDF), Home Affairs, and Correctional Services among others.

NOW READ: 10 000 new police recruits joining a broken organisation, low on morale, resources