Cele promises to send in 'amaberethe' to deal with drug lords in Westbury

Police Minister Bheki Cele has deployed a Tactical Response Team (or amaberethe, as they are commonly known) to start with clean-ups in the streets of Westbury, Johannesburg, following days of protests. 

Residents took to the streets over several days to voice their concerns over drug-related crimes in the area. 

Addressing outraged residents during a mass meeting on Tuesday, Cele promised to tackle the drug trade and investigate charges of police corruption. 

"We have requested that the police send a special unit called TRT (Tactical Response Team, or amaberethe) to be part of the community, so that they can begin to push back the gangs, and that unit will be here as from today," Cele told residents.

He said that the unit would join the team that had already started to patrol the area. 

On Monday, tensions were high between residents and police, resulting in clashes. Eight people were arrested for public violence. 

Residents also put it to Cele that police officials were corrupt and working with drug lords. 

"You have raised the issue of drug lords," he said and promised that national police commissioner Lieutenant General Khehla Sitole would set up a task team to assist with bringing down drug lords and reducing drug-related crime.

He asked for 24 hours to put together a special unit which would investigate the allegations of corruption among police. 

Cele assured the community that there would be more police visibility in the area to assist with all their concerns.


'We would like to work with you'

He promised to return within seven days to give feedback on issues and progress made by the teams that had been deployed. 

"The national commissioner will look at corruption, collaboration with drug lords, of not doing the work, and responding," he said.

"The police will investigate those you say are corrupt, and we would like to work with you to give us information so that we immediately act on that."

Cele said the police were doing their best to ensure that two other men who were involved in last week’s shooting, which led to the death of a 45-year-old woman, were arrested and faced the full might of the law. 

"Another thing that has been raised is the perpetrators that shot the woman. We are requesting 48 hours to ensure that the two that are still on the run will be apprehended," he said. 

Cele said that he would be asking other departments to deal with all the demands presented by residents. 

"We heard you - and we are working on bringing more ministers to work on the issues you have raised, and not just the police."

Police would continue to monitor the area to bring about peace and stability, he said.

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