Specialised police units will be deployed in Mamelodi in an effort to curb crime, Police Minister Bheki Cele announced on Monday.
The Minister announced the intervention during a community engagement and imbizo in the area. He was accompanied by National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole, his Gauteng counterpart General Elias Mawela as well as Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane.
During the meeting, residents took turns complaining of a wave of crime that has swept the area allegedly at the hands of a known criminal and his henchmen.
It is alleged that the gang extorts “protection fees” from businesses in the area and was behind a spate of robberies and vehicle hijackings. The community also complained about corrupt police officers who worked in cahoots with criminals, making it difficult to report crime.
Cele said it was time for government to govern and not allow criminals to terrorise communities.
“That’s not what we went to the bush for, that’s not what we went to Angola for. That was not what the struggle was for. We went to prison to make sure that the people of South Africa are safe,” he said.
Cele urged Sitole to deploy the Tactical Response, National Intervention and Anti-Gang units in Mamelodi.
“I want these units deployed here. I want to see who can stand in our way when it comes to fighting crime. We’ll come back to launch the [units]. We won’t tell you when that will be. [The units] won’t leave until the situation has returned to normal.
“We won’t leave while people still live in fear. We won’t leave here while our people are still extorted protection fees. We won’t leave while people are still being robbed.”
Cele and the national and provincial police leadership began the day with an operation in the township.
Residents also requested that new police stations be built in far-flung areas, where residents are forced to travel long distances to access police services.
“I stay in Nellmapius and I have to spend R40 to get to a police station. We are asking for a mobile station and police visibility in our area,” said one community member.
She welcomed the roadblocks conducted in the morning, but said more had to be done to root out crimes such as car hijacking and drug abuse in the township.
“Our children are dying because of drugs. Police should start doing their work properly and not provide excuses,” she said.
Another resident complained that taverns were a source of crime and noise pollution.
“Rape victims are afraid to report cases as the [police] are insensitive when handling the cases, asking demeaning questions. We are requests that victim-friendly rooms be provided with competent staff,” she said.
Cele urged Mawela and Sitole to “clean up” the township.
“If it means we die [while doing this], then so be it. There is no community that will be ruled by criminals,” he said.