After a mob justice attack resulted in a young man's death, the residents of Masiphumelele spoke of the inadequate policing in the township, outside Cape Town. By BERNARD CHIGUVARE and PASQUA HEARD for GROUNDUP.
Masiphumelele residents gathered in shock today around the ashes of a young man killed in a mob justice attack in Myeza Road last night. Residents have been complaining about inadequate policing in the township, which does not have its own police station. The dead man had allegedly raped a 24- year-old girl.
Residents were also angered by the rape and murder of a 14- year-old boy who was found by his uncle, Monde Pula, yesterday morning.
Several residents said there should be better policing in the township. Police should be more visible and response times should be better, they said. Mbu Maloli, 22, said: “I’ve never seen the police patrolling properly. They always come too late, after the incident has already happened. We need a police station in Masiphumelele or they at least need to patrol every night.”
But Pula, 40, said the police were “always visible”. “The problem is that the criminals plan a time when the police are in another part of the area, so they don’t get caught.”
Masiphumelele, Ocean View and Kommetjie are served by one police station, in Ocean View.
Last month, residents marched to the police station demanding better crime prevention. Accepting a memorandum from the marchers, the newly-appointed head of the station, Lieutenant Masiza Ponco, acknowledged that the station was understaffed. Nine more police officers were to join the force by the end of August and for five more constable posts would be advertised, he said. But yesterday he was unavailable to confirm whether or not the additional staff had joined the station.
Constable Noloyiso Rwexana of the South African Police Service (SAPS) Western Cape media centre was not able to comment on the staffing.
Miriam Xabendlini, 43, said she had been robbed of her sound system last year. She said she had phoned the police station several times but no-one had come. In the end she and her husband had gone by taxi to the station but police had told her that her fingerprints were on the crime scene and nothing could be done.
Xabendlini said residents resorted to mob justice because police failed to respond to cases in time.
Abdis Kalili, 26, who runs a spaza shop on the corner of Myeza and Tandla Roads, said that in the past he had not had problems with policing.
But when his shop was robbed two weeks ago, he did not get any help from the police, he said.
“Seven armed men stormed into my shop around 7.30pm and went away with money, cigarettes and four mobile phones.”
His brother, Abbuljebaar Mohammed Tiyeb, was present at the time of robbery.
“I reported to the police the same day but up to now police have not made themselves available for this case.” He said he had reported three other cases but has not had any response from the police. “SAPS cannot perform their duty in the way expected by the community because some of the members live in the area, and are friends to some of the criminals,” said Maloli.
He said sometimes perpetrators were arrested and let loose the following day, and then the community felt justified in meting out justice itself.
Maloli and other residents said this was the first incident of mob justice they had seen in Masiphumelele.
Following the findings of the commission of inquiry into policing in Khayelitsha, the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) has been campaigning for fairer police staffing across the city. “We want the minister of police to ensure that police resources are redistributed to communities where they are needed. Currently the ratio of police in white to black communities is disproportionate,” said Chumile Sali, head of the Safety and Justice Programme at the SJC.
Rwexana said: “The police are monitoring the situation closely. No one has been arrested at this stage. We appeal to the community: anyone with information that can assist with the investigation should contact Crime Stop 0860010111.” DM
Photo: A young South African carrying a bucket for washing clothes walks along a mud pathway in the impoverished settlement of Masiphumelele in Cape Town, South Africa 18 June 2015. EPA/NIC BOTHMA