Defend Truth


Police fail to stop Glebelands deadly collections


Vanessa Burger is an independent community activist for human rights and social justice.

For those of you still paying attention to the effects of political interference and the ensuing destruction of our country’s law enforcement on ordinary people and poor communities in particular, the following serves as yet another dismal example of the futility and frustration of trying to induce the SAPS to fulfil their constitutionally mandated obligation to “serve and protect” all South Africa’s citizens.

As has been previously reported, Glebelands Hostel’s deadly collections began again on Wednesday 25 October when a meeting was held at Block 52. A Glebelands block meeting or collections = death. The police know this, and they also know that the death may not only be that of a lowly hostel resident – whose lives are so clearly of little consequence to anyone beyond their own families – but may be the death of another ANC councillor, assassinations that have brought the lethal fall-out of the rot within the ANC to global attention.

The following does not of course include the plethora of background information provided to police relevant to those in charge of the collections, which, if the attention of crime intelligence was not focused on the president’s imaginary enemies instead of real criminals and real threats to national security, might actually serve to assist in current investigations that seem to be staggering in ever-decreasing circles under the smothering burden of systemic corruption, shot to shit by selective application of the law, while dragging the corpse of our once-beautiful Constitution across KwaZulu-Natal in a long smear of blood.

Daily diary of a crime in progress

25 October: Community members report meeting in progress at Block 52 to Umlazi SAPS Station Commissioner, Brig Bongi Ntuli and request urgent police intervention. Brig Ntuli reportedly replies she will send “private police” (Huh? What are private police?) No police visit Block 52. Meeting continues. Residents informed they must pay R30 each for (Glebeland’s one and only) convicted murderer, Mxolileni Bhani’s court appeal, but no one believes this. Money is usually used for hitmen, guns or bribes for police / court officials. Receive another call about Block 52 meeting. Conveners identified including room numbers and alleged involvement in other criminal activities. Report to senior Provincial CID member who assures “teams on the ground will respond”. Meeting successfully concluded. No police intervention. 

26 October: Receive information guns now hidden at Block L. Suspects identified. Report to police. No response.   

29 October: Receive call that Block 49 apparently held a meeting on 26 or 27 October. Residents told they would be contributing R50 each. Room number and name of person to whom money must be paid provided plus alleged relationship with other criminals. Receive message about alleged stabbing few days earlier of Block 42 resident, bodyguard of Glebelands rogue cop (the Durban Central SAPS detective who allegedly recruits and arms the hostel’s hitmen) after he allegedly killed someone else. Survivors apparently all in hospital including bodyguard. Presumably linked to collections. Police response unknown.

30 – 31 October: Send email to senior Provincial CID member, copy Task Team detectives, outlining past few days goings on. Include detailed background information relating to suspects, including past and present alleged criminal activity. Again request urgent operation to stop collections and therefore stop murder. No response.

1 November: Receive early morning tip-off, Block 52 collections continuing. Conveners expected to go door to door that afternoon to collect money. Report immediately to senior Provincial CID member, copy Task Team detectives. Response from CID: “I will ensure that a team is sent there in the afternoon.” Community later report collection proceeded uninterrupted.

2 November: Receive many reports that Block 52 collections concluded. Present location provided for money and registers containing contributors’ names. Sources suggest money to be handed to rogue cop next day. Beg CID to arrange raid. Stress collection organisers are some of Glebelands most feared and emphasize imminent threat of assassination of unknown target. CID member responds: “Let me see what I can do.” Later message claims he has “asked POP to conduct raid”.

3 November: Receive message from CID, “unfortunately we had negative results”. Community reports later police visited conveners rooms, checked their IDs. Did not search rooms so money and registers not found. No arrests. Receive message later Block 49 collections successfully concluded. Collections now spreading to other blocks. Follow up with community regarding guns at Block L. Apparently no police operations. Guns still there.

5 November: Receive call meeting in progress at second floor kitchen, Block 46. Convener identified. Send message to CID. No response. Head explodes.

Yes, we know it is a constitutional right for people to gather and make voluntary donations for any lawful purpose. But it is against the law to force people – especially at gunpoint – to attend a meeting for the purpose of extorting money when the intention is conspiracy to murder. Yes, criminal intention may be hard to prove, as is extortion when victims are too terrified to report to police officers they know are hand in glove with hitmen. But there are other avenues open to real police who may want to do their job, just as there are the Constitutional rights of residents to be considered – the right not be intimidated, not to be compelled to hand over money they cannot afford, and not to be forced – through their donations – to become complicit in crimes they know nothing about. Police could conduct disruptive operations and ensure all conveners’ rooms are properly searched, could be a start. Conveners could be arrested on suspicion, held for the maximum legal period and properly interrogated (not tortured) regarding their alleged activities, their associates, their movements, and especially who initiated the collections, to whom they will hand the money and for what purpose. While conveners are safely in police custody, real police (as opposed to local corrupt ones) could go door to door to interview residents of blocks where collections are being held. Behind closed doors, people are far more likely to tell the truth. Or undercover police could monitor the conveners, wait for the hand over, then arrest all concerned. End of collections. Without the money it is unlikely anyone will be killed. And of course, Block L could be cordoned off, residents prevented from leaving and entering, while teams conduct a thorough search of the entire building using sniffer dogs and keeping careful watch for guns tossed from windows, or concealed under blankets on washing lines.

Where there is a will, there is a way. But with no will, there is simply no way this will ever end for we are living in a parallel universe where our police serve only the will of the political elite and protect only the interests of the factional few. 

And so the charade continues. The community resolutely reports to the police. The SAPS, just as resolutely, ignores the community while making public statements urging the community to “work with the police,” and blaming its abysmal performance on the same community’s “failure to co-operate”.

Just like Glebeland’s late warlord allegedly claimed at a meeting with Umlazi SAPS management and community leaders in early 2014, when confronted as to the reason for the purge and elimination of the hostel’s block committee members: “We cannot stop this project until the councillor says so.”   

And there you have it. The police too, cannot stop this project until their political minders order them to do so.

So when the Glebelands-related death toll ratchets up victim number 97, probably in a few days time, we will all know who to blame – the SAPS and its political leadership that has brought us to this place of shame. But never mind our country’s meltdown and the bodies piling up, bugger the poor, our prez wants a nuclear reactor, a Monument To The National Prick that will glow in the dark for all eternity. DM

Vanessa Burger is an Independent Community Activist for Human Rights and Social Justice


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