Tactical response team deployed to Westbury amid on-going violence

The imbizo comes three weeks after gang violence erupted following the killing of alleged Fast Guns gang leader Keenen Sheldon Ebrahim.

Hours after surviving President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet reshuffle, Police Minister Bheki Cele was received with anger by the community of gang-ridden Westbury following a spate of shootings.

Residents came out in numbers to the Westbury Recreation Hall where the department hosted an imbizo aimed at tackling crime in the area.


The imbizo comes three weeks after gang violence erupted following the killing of alleged Fast Guns gang leader Keenen Sheldon Ebrahim.

It was, however, not the first time the department held such an event in the area and little to nothing has changed, residents said. In 2018, Cele and Gauteng MEC for community safety Faith Mazibuko told residents they would put a stop to gangsterism and crime.

However, five years later residents say they have been turned prisoners in their own homes because of the violence.

Fake promises

A resident, who identified herself as Nolene during the imbizo, said they were promised changes in 2018 when Cele and Mazibuko visited.

“We believed you but you lied to us. You told us the same thing you are telling us now. Why have those promises you made then not executed? You came here to lie to us. I don’t have faith in you and you don’t care about coloured people,” she said.

The visibly distraught resident took aim at Cele and Mazibuko and the other officials present, including Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi, Deputy Police Minister Cassel Mathale and Joburg mayor Thapelo Amad.

“Your children have security, they are in private schools or overseas and we must just believe you when you say you care about us,” she said. “You will leave here in convoys, we will go home and who knows what will happen to us.

If you did what you said you would in 2018, we wouldn’t be sitting here.” Noleen said she lost a child because of the gang violence and that has broken her beyond repair.

“I lost big time. I was called to identify my child while he was lying at Shoprite dead. I hear people say we must forgive but I will never forgive. We are broken parents.”

Police station might as well be closed

Other residents who spoke during the imbizo called for the police station to be closed as it did not help them and how police have been captured by criminals.

NOW READ: Westbury can’t be another Cape Flats


After community submissions, Cele told the residents he had combined the Technical Response Team and the National Intervention Unit to deal with crime in the area. “We have instructed the police not to drive around, they must walk around,” he said.

“From today… I have instructed them not to be seen but to be felt they are here. We are going to go toe-to-toe with the criminals and I can assure you that when the dust settles, we will be winners. There’s going to be heat here and do not call me to come and take my police,” he said.

“It is our job to squeeze the criminals. We will go into every house here, we will walk everywhere. We will be dealing with corrupt police here, but we will also be working on the corrupt members of the community.

“Whoever wants a game, whichever criminal [who] feels good and tough to play, this is the time. No police must die with a gun in their hands.”

He acknowledged the police could have done better since their engagement in 2018. “Maybe the mistake we made in 2018 was to withdraw before telling you.

This time we will engage you and ask if everything is okay before we go. I do not want you to come and say come and take your police.”

Amad said the imbizo was not just a box-ticketing exercise but they would ensure Westbury residents see change.

“We have to start somewhere. We cannot fold our arms and say we are incapacitated We need to intervene decisively. “The crime happening here is very personal to the city. We will tap into the areas where we can tap into criminality to make sure criminals are arrested.”

NOW READ: Cele visits Westbury amid gang violence but residents angry he didn’t speak to them

– lungam@citizen.co.za

Read more on these topics

Bheki Cele shootings Westbury

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits