‘Bring back Wanya Tsotsi’

2017-01-18 06:01
Members of the community marched in support of the return of Operation Wanya Tsotsi after the announcement of the crime fighting organisation’s operation suspension due to bail conditions. Photo: Boipelo Mere

Members of the community marched in support of the return of Operation Wanya Tsotsi after the announcement of the crime fighting organisation’s operation suspension due to bail conditions. Photo: Boipelo Mere

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Hundreds of community members from Kimberley and the surrounding areas faced the rainy weather and marched to the Galeshewe police station in Kimberley to demand the return of Operation Wanya Tsotsi (OWT) on Tuesday (10/01).

Led by church leaders and reverends from various churches, the peaceful march followed the suspension of the crime-fighting operation two weeks ago after the court ruling bail condition. The announcement was made during the handover to the Kagisho police station of a pile of weapons and drugs that was confiscated over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

According to Tebogo Obusitse, the chairperson of the OWT, the bail condition at the Galeshewe Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, 8 December, stipulated that none of their members embark on any of their activities.

Members came far from neighbouring towns Koffiefontein, Ritchie and Jacobsdal to support the action.

On the day, three members of the OWT appeared on charges of assault and grievous bodily harm.

A memorandum and petition by the community was directed to the office of the premier and the office of the MEC for the Department of Safety, Pauline Williams, for intervention.

Some of the demands were that all charges against OWT members be withdrawn and that they be allowed to work hand-in-hand with the police, community and the Department of Justice. The OWT accused the police of manufacturing charges against its members and therefore demands an immediate stop to that.

Brig. Nomana Adonis, on behalf of the South African Police Service, and Nomakhwezi Jonkers of the MEC’s office signed the memorandum. They both promised to give the memorandum attention and promised a response within the required seven days.

On behalf of Popcru, Boitumelo Phelehu pledged his support for the OWT in fighting crime. He denied several media reports that division amongst OWT members led to the suspension.

“Police officers must stop advising criminals to open cases against members of the OWT and instead establish a hand-in-hand working relationship.

“They must be allowed to continue to ensure safety in the streets for our society and in schools,” he said.

Obusitse warned that Kimberley will never be the same if seven days pass without any response to them.

“It is only due to the fact that we are law-abiding citizens that we succumbed to the court order. “We are not trying to be special to the magistrate who threatened to lock us up, we know we are special enough to our community. That is the romantic message we would like to send. But we will not fold our hands and look on while our community and school children are being harrassed,” he said.

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