Scepticism ruled about Minister of Police Bheki Cele’s plan to fight the crime in Skierlik informal settlements in Mamelodi East with the opening of a mobile police station on Wednesday.
“There are too many robberies and people killed here,” said Arab Abraham, whose family owned 30 spaza shops in the area, including in Skierlik.
Last month, one of his shops was robbed three times, leaving one customer dead.
“When we phone the police it takes them four hours to respond,” he said.
Abraham said one of his shops was targeted at least twice a week. His cousin, Fashaah, has survived being shot after his shop has been robbed 30 times since opening.
“We are scared and traumatised,” Abraham said.
A Skierlik resident who works for a government department agreed to speak anonymously.
“We are scared to live here, I have children, and every day it’s just guns and young girls are raped here. Don’t even get me started about the gender-based violence in the area,” he said.
“We have no basic services here. Look at the plastic toilets, we drink water from Jojo tanks and our electricity is illegally connected.”
Another resident, Lillian Davies, said it would make no difference.
“We are not safe here, especially at night, they break into our houses and rob us.”
The police service was nonexistent, she claimed.
“Here, when someone robs you, you blow on a whistle and if they catch you, they kill you,” Davies said.
At the Street Izimbizo launching the mobile station yesterday, community leaders voiced their concerns to Cele.
To report a criminal case cost them R150 in taxi fare to get to the Boschkop police station, they claimed.
They also questioned Cele’s visit shortly ahead of municipal elections.
“This is not the first time I have come here, it is not true about the elections. I have been in Mamelodi several times,” Cele countered.
“I am here as the minister of police dealing with criminals in front of me,” he said.
Cele also warned “tsotsis” named on a list given to him.
“We will not allow criminals to co-govern our communities. Government is responsible to protect the community, so we will deal with it, starting now.”
Cele called the colonel responsible for unsolved cases to the stage and demanded answers for the community by the time he returns to the area.
“The mobile police station is not going anywhere. It belongs to the community now,” Cele said.
He also said a special task team will be deployed to the crime-ridden areas to help fight crime – the same task team responsible for arresting 284 suspects in the KwaZulu-Natal looting in July.
Community leader Douglas Mkhondo said they have been “crying” for a station since 2015.
“Now we must see how effective it is.” – firstname.lastname@example.org