Angry women blockade road

2018-02-07 06:00
The Platfontein road has been cleared after being blockaded by women of the community. Photo: Boipelo Mere

The Platfontein road has been cleared after being blockaded by women of the community. Photo: Boipelo Mere

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“All we ask for is a satellite police station and Apollo lights, because we are suffering and tortured by criminals.”

This was the plea of women from Platfontein on Wednesday (31/01) morning when they protested on the Barkly West national road.

The women took to the streets, barricading the R31 with burning tyres, branches and rocks in an attempt to get attention.

They say that the Northern Cape government and the South African Police Service (SAPS) are failing them.

According to them, they have approached the SAPS and the municipality several times, but nothing is being done about their concerns.

Frustrated drivers were met with long queues when they approached the Platfontein entrance on Wednesday morning, as police negotiated with the protesting women, trying to persuade them to allow the road to be opened to traffic.

The approximately 30 women, mostly from the !Xnu community, claim to be regarded as a forgotten community.

Their main concern is the escalating violence by the addicts among them who will stop at nothing to get their fix.

Drug and alcohol abuse is a constant problem and service delivery is something they are not used to.

The anger was sparked after an elderly couple was left traumatised by an attack on their house.

The attack, allegedly by intoxicated young people, is reported to have happened two weeks ago.

The community blame the police and accuse them of being indifferent to their safety.

Another incident singled out was the murder of an elderly man last year in October. His intestines were reportedly cut out and found in a plastic bag next to his body.

According to the women, they have been requesting a satellite police station for their community since back in 2003, when they moved from Smitsdrift to Platfontein.

“All these incidents are triggered by the drug trafficking that happens under our watch and the police do not want to intervene,” said one of the women, Pinaa O’Rayn.

“We are sick and tired, as we cannot even sleep peacefully due to the fear of being attacked in our own homes by our own children,” said one frustrated woman.

“Our children go to the township to buy these tablets and marijuana, which turns them into monsters.

“They become so intoxicated that they would do anything, robbing, stealing, raping and killing, just to get money for a fix.

“And once they are high, they get out of hand and do not even see their parents as anything when they assault and rob them.

“They party all night and wait for their targets to sleep before they strike.

“It gets even worse when it is month-end, like this weekend, when we fear to even sleep out of fear that someone could be killed in the dark.

“We are even afraid to buy any decent appliance or groceries.”

She added that they have now started seeing strange cars driving around, which they suspect are delivering the drugs to the community.

Among the interventions that the community needs is for the installation of electricity and Apollo lights in their community.

“There is even an area that is called ‘Donkerhoek’ where these thugsstrike the most due to no visibility at night.”

They admitted to illegal electrical connections, which they were warned against.

“It is true that illegal connections do happen. But some people are left with no choice, as they were just dumped in the houses and promised that electricity will come. That was 15 years ago,” shouted another women.

“The politicians only come here during elections, flanked by those same police who cannot approach us.

“After the elections, the ANC abandoned us and the DA refused to intervene, accusing us of throwing our vote in the water.”

They say they have approached Operation Wanya Tsotsi (OWT) instead of the police after they realised the difference they made in the Galeshewe community.

Tebogo Obusitse of OWT confirmed being approached by the Platfontein community in an effort to bring stability to the area.

He said he understood the frustrations of the women and that OWT is willing to step in.

“I mean it is morally and socially wrong for the police station to be so far from people.

“Imagine a rape victim having to walk such a long distance to Galeshewe to open a case. That is not a conducive environment for women,” said Obusitse.

According to Obusitse, they have advised the two communities, !Xnu and Khwe, to set up a meeting and then invite them.

“We must set up an OWT there to protect the community instead of going there only when something tragic has happened.

“Setting up an operation there will also break down language barriers, as our members will be interacting with their own, while we will also give support by putting all the little resources we have in place for regular visits and mentoring.”

An enquiry was directed to Lt. Olebogeng Tawana regarding the progress of allocating a satellite police station to the community.

He said he did not know about the engagement that the police had had with the community in 2017.

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