Locals outraged at police accusations

2016-03-01 10:46

Community members of Manenberg are standing up to what they feel are unjustified accusations.
This follows reports in People’s Post over the last two weeks in which police have accused community members of attacking them while they were trying to arrest suspects.

Roegshanda Pascoe, Manenberg Safety Forum’s chairperson, says that although she commends the willingness of the police to help the community, their relationship still needs fostering.
She also dismisses earlier media reports suggesting that some community members have been racist towards police officers.
“I am still disturbed about the news reports that went out about Manenberg people who are said to be racist,” says Pascoe.

She says the community has lost confidence in the police and people are fearful of coming forward with information relating to crimes, based on the way they have been treated in the past.
“You tell me who is in the firing line at the end of the day? Is it not these community members who are putting their lives on the line? For me, the police made these bold statements about the people of Manenberg who don’t want to work with them and are attacking them, but when people do [work with police], they then are put in danger,” she says.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Ian Bennett, Manenberg police spokesperson, maintains that community members are not making the police’s jobs easier by allowing gang members, who are community members themselves, to keep attacking police officers while they perform their duties.
“The community openly attacks the police to protect the gangsters. There is no other way of putting it,” says Bennett.

He says both parties are to blame for generalising the behaviour of a few individuals.
“Not all the community members are throwing stones, but then they get upset when we say community members are throwing stones. In the same breath, the community can then not generalise the police and say that all of us are corrupt and cannot be trusted.”

However, he goes on to say that education in the community will play a vital role on the road to recovery.
“Our communities are trapped in poverty, not just financial poverty. We are looking at spiritual poverty, we are looking at mental poverty and educational poverty and this definitely leads to the mentality of ‘it’s not my job, it is your job’. That is what the community tells us – that we get paid to do it. The other thing that gets thrown in our faces is that they say: ‘We pay your wages, so you need to do the work.’ But it is not about that, it is about each community member.

“For instance, you have the cleansing department which is supposed to beautify the area, but because people keep on dumping their dirt in places where it creates a total mess of things, [the cleansing department] ends up just working on complaints and don’t have a chance or the time to actually beautify. We need to change the mentality of ‘this is not my work’. It is our duty to keep the place clean so that when the council comes through, they can beautify the area and that will maybe lead to a change in the area,” he says.
Pascoe also adds that a stronger dialogue and community involvement is imperative if the two parties are to work together to quell the recent flare-up in violence in the area.

“I told them personally, let me come and sit with the map with you and I will map out Manenberg for you and I will show you where and what is happening. I will even go as far as to say who is who in the zoo, so that the police stop running around like headless chickens, because otherwise we are not going to be effective together. We are not going to stop anything.”

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