Copesville not ‘coping’

2016-08-03 06:00

FOLLOWING recent violent protests in Copesville, residents at a community meeting on Saturday spoke about their service delivery woes.

Copesville erupted into chaos last Thursday night with protesters burning tyres, blockading roads, cars stoned and another car overturned.

The protests started shortly after a community meeting in Copesville earlier on Thursday evening. For three hours, some 200 people protested on Copesville Drive and soon infiltrated the suburb. Residents had to lock their homes and remain indoors.

Provincial police spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane said 12 cars were stoned and a case of public violence was registered at Mountain Rise police station. He said the Public Order Policing Unit, SAPS Mountain Rise and the Crime Intelligence Unit were out in full force on Thursday evening, but no arrests were made.

The dissatisfied residents said they took to the streets to express concerns over service delivery. One resident said they were left without electricity for three days last week, while others were without water due to water meter thefts.

Following Thursday’s protest, another meeting was organised on Saturday afternoon, however, few attended.

Pastor Lucky Naicker, who chaired the meeting, said he was “disappointed” by how few Copesville residents were present.

“Copesville is going through a crisis and we need intervention, but there seems to be no relief in sight.”

Naicker said he had met Mountain Rise station commander Brigadier Boxer Pilly on 1 July and told him the community was in “dire need of intervention”.

“I asked for Copesville’s satellite police station to be opened after being closed for five years.”

Naicker said the station was opened the night of his meeting with Pillay, but he saw it had been closed on Saturday afternoon.

“We find ourselves in the same predicament we have been in for five years now, and it is unacceptable.

“Copesville suffers rape, taxi violence, and house robberies and children and women get mugged on their way to school and work, resulting in injuries, the destruction of buildings, [and] sometimes death.”

A Copesville resident at the meeting, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he had lived in the area since he was seven and it was “a terrible place to live”.

“People are stealing, robbing and breaking into our homes. We need a neighbourhood watch. We need more policing. Please help us,” he said.

Pillay told those at the meeting he believed Thursday’s protesters were mostly young people protesting about the lack of electricity. He said electricity theft in Copesville was a problem. “Whole areas are pitch black and this is ideal for criminals.”

In addition, over 300 water meters had been stolen for the copper.

He said the spate of crime was suspected to be youngsters hooked on whoonga.

Pillay said the police station in Copesville was a sore point for many.

“The structure of the station is practically falling apart.

“We cannot access radios because there isn’t always electricity and there has to be more than two officers at the station otherwise we become sitting ducks.

“We have limited manpower, so instead of putting police officers at the station, we suggest having two in a police vehicle constantly patrolling.”

He said the pending local elections have also presented challenges and other areas need policing too. He suggested the station be open from 7am to 7pm with a vehicle patrolling­ at night. He also suggested a WhatsApp group be started, but said this can be discussed at a future meeting.

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