Soshanguve: Watsha Tsotsi!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Pretoria - Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has vowed to rid the Soshanguve township, in northern Pretoria, of crime.

However, for the police to do this, the community needs to partner in anti-crime initiatives on the ground and report crime to law enforcement agencies.

“Before we blame the police… it is the people in our communities who know these criminals. You know the criminals, you know where they stay, you know where they live and know what they do. It is the people that need to report them,” the Minister said.

He assured that the police management was perfecting the system which will protect those who report criminal activities.

“Our laws must bite against criminals... criminals can’t have it easy,” Minister Mbalula said on Friday.

“Police stations must be able to respond to crimes reported. We must respond adequately because we have the capacity to respond and criminals must know that we have the capacity.”

He was speaking in Soshanguve where he hosted a Ministerial Imbizo with the community.

Minister Mbalula was accompanied by his deputy Bongani Mkongi, acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and SAPS top management.

The morning kicked off with various crime prevention operations in Soshanguve where road blocks were conducted. They also made unannounced visits to various police stations in the area.

The residents have been complaining about crime and substance abuse. Crime in the area has made life unbearable even for the students from the local Tshwane University of Technology.

Community concerns

Drugs and alcohol abuse are also a problem with more and more youngsters becoming drug addicts.

“The reason why there is crime in the area is because our children are not working. They are busy occupying the streets and taking drugs and committing crime,” community member Samuel Skosana told SAnews.

This was also emphasised by Minister Mbalula who attributed some crime categories to drugs.

“Drugs is a generic problem. Drug manufacturing and drug distribution is what is killing our country. Our young people are suffering from hopelessness and they are attracted to drugs, nyaope and all sorts of things due to lack of opportunities.”

To address this, the Minister said, there was a need for an integrated and developmental approach to safety in view of recognition that safety extends far beyond the purview of just the police.

Students’ concerns

Student representative Livhuane Mashango told the Minister that students are living in fear as criminals terrorise and target them.

Mashango said students have experienced an increase in muggings and that has fuelled fears of females falling victim to rape.

“We are mugged by criminals. They come inside our rooms and take our mobile phones and laptops which are being given to us by NSFAS. When we report them our cases aren’t being taken seriously.”

Mashango said these acts incite fear. “Instead of moving us forward, it takes us backward,” said Mashango, who warned that students will take the law into their own hands if police continue not taking their cases seriously.

Community Policing Forum concerns

The Community Policing Forum and community patroller representatives also used the opportunity to raise their challenges, which included lack of appropriate uniforms and stipends.

Petrus Mohomi, who has been a patrolling the area for 11-years told SAnews that they are often overlooked when SAPS is recruiting.

“They hire new faces that we don’t even know in the area yet we have been working hand in hand with the police to rid our community of crime … even if it is a cleaning job, we would appreciate it, because as things stand we are just volunteering and there is not even a stipend.”

He went on to urge police management to organise appropriate reflective gear.

Community Policing Forum Chairperson Teffo Matsobane raised challenges within the sector policing such as lack of staff in the sector police to help CPS. He also called for skills training for CPFs.

“Police tend to run after the crime instead of being in-front of it. Sector police must stay there on the ground and understand the challenges facing the community.”

General Phahlane said they value the contribution and difference that community patrollers and CPFs make but emphasised that it is on a voluntary basis.

“Being a patroller or CPF member does not guarantee you a permanent job when we recruit. There are  standard requirements that a person must meet,” the acting commissioner said.

Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Sizakele Malobane, said they have started sending about 250 active patrollers for advanced training which will allow them to help the police officers in making arrests.

All the different stakeholders representing the community agreed to partner with the police in the fight, a move that was welcomed by Minister Mbalula.

“This was not a festival of ideas or a police workshop …we are finding solutions to the problems of crime - irrespective of police affiliations,” Minister Mbalula said.

This will be the Minister’s second ministerial Imbizo following the one hosted at Mfuleni in Cape Town last Friday. More such engagements are planned throughout the country. - SAnews.gov.za

 

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