Nyanga locals want to make their community safe - for a fee

2016-11-09 22:18
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Cape Town - Residents of Nyanga, South Africa's so-called murder capital, say they are willing to put their lives on the line to help make their community safer, but that this will literally come at a price.

Speaking at a community imbizo there on Wednesday, some residents said they were prepared to help the police in their fight against crime, but would do so for a small income.

Community members maintained that authorities were losing the battle against crime in Nyanga, where national statistics show the highest number of killings recorded in a year, and that their local police station is under-resourced and staffed only with incompetent officers. 

But Western Cape police commissioner Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula, who was present at the imbizo, said since engaging with the community last year a number of improvements had been made.

Last year residents had also complained about poor crime investigations, a shortage of officers, corruption and a failure by police to attend crime scenes.

Jula said since then changes to improve the situation had been made.

New constables had been deployed to the Nyanga police station and a satellite police station was earmarked for Browns Farms, one of the precinct's most crime-ridden areas.

Jula told the community, gathered at the Nyanga Stadium, that numerous special operations had been held in the past year, resulting in the arrest of 23 000 suspects and the confiscation of 285 guns, more than 3 200 rounds of ammunition and 68 million millilitres of liquor.

'I can do a better job than the police'

Jula told the community that while inroads were being made in dealing with their concerns, the fight against crime was a collaboration that required community involvement and co-operation.

Residents, however, still voiced dissatisfaction with the local police's performance.

Amos Magalela, 49, who has been unemployed for two years, said the police should consider employing jobless residents to patrol, or act as full-time informants.

"I can do a better job than the police. I know every hole and every thief in this place. I have given the cops tip-offs in the past, but why can't I be part of solving it? The only thing for us to do is become part of the neighbourhood watch. And that is voluntary," he said.

"I am hungry. I have a family. I can't afford to volunteer. I need something to keep me going."

His friend Bonginkosi Booi agreed.

"The police do a job. They are not doing a very good one. Use the many unemployed people in Nyanga who are sitting on street corners or getting drunk at the shebeen to be the solution to the problem. We will sort it out quick quick," he insisted.

Esther Ngcuka, a Nyanga resident for 23 years, said she had never felt as unsafe as she did now.

'People die here every day'

"Here we can't walk around or send our children to the shop for a bread. There are thieves and robbers on every street corner. There are like cockroaches – all over the place," she said.

"When something happens, you phone the police. They don't come or [they] arrive hours later. That's why some people just take care of the criminals themselves."

She would never consider getting involved in mob justice, Ngcuka said.

"But you have to understand the frustration. This place is not a safe place. People die here every day, sometimes only because the murderer wants the R10 in your pocket. We need policemen who are fearless, who will make these tsotsis feel the fear of the law. But these ones we have are not good enough."

Cynthia Siphungu, however, commended the local police, saying they did a dangerous job.

"This place is full of the devil's work. I would never want to come here and put my life on the line for ungrateful people who don't appreciate the danger the police are facing. It is our job to be grateful to them for what they do and make it easier for them," she said.

Siphungu explained that her appreciation was personal as her brother was murdered five years ago and "wonderful" detective work resulted in his murderer being jailed.

"So when people say our police is rubbish, I tell them to shut up. There are great people working in our communities who aren't even paid enough."

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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