Bekkersdal: Protesting residents recruit pupils from schools for 'extra mobilisation'

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Munsieville resident scour a hill looking for illegal immigrants they claim are responsible for violent crime in their township.
Munsieville resident scour a hill looking for illegal immigrants they claim are responsible for violent crime in their township.
Iavan Pijoos
  • Residents of Bekkersdal and Munsieville in the West Rand took to the streets to search for illegal immigrants they accuse of being behind violent crimes in their areas.
  • Bekkersdal residents recruited pupils to join them in their operation.
  • The Gauteng Department of Education has condemned the disruption of schools.

Scores of residents from Bekkersdal, west of Johannesburg, took to the streets on Friday morning to protest against crime and illegal immigrants following the murder of a woman on Wednesday.

A resident who did not want to be identified told News24 that the woman's murder triggered their protest.

"She was killed for nothing. Police said she was strangled to death. Her head was stuffed under her bed. Her killers fled with her television and groceries. We are under siege from criminals in the area," the resident said.

LIVE | Bekkersdal residents disrupt teaching at local schools, urge pupils to join protest against illegal miners

According to the residents, murder, rape and house robberies were prevalent in the area.

"We are under threat. Criminals have taken over. We have nowhere to go. This is my place of birth, I want to spend the rest of my life here. We suspect that the murders are committed by illegal immigrants. Many of them are unemployed and roam the township freely," he claimed.

The residents gathered outside Kgothalang Secondary School, urging pupils to come out to join them. A group of pupils heeded their call and joined the protesters, who chanted slogans and marched to nearby Simunye Secondary School.

Simunye pupils demonstrated near the gate but most stayed in school.  

Community leader Thabang Wesi said the community had recruited pupils from schools because they needed "extra mobilisation".

"The protest is led by women. They are weak and vulnerable. They need support from their children. We need extra support to fight crime. Our pupils are also victims of crime. Criminals here don't choose whether you are a child or an adult," said Wesi. 

The crowd made its way to the Bekkersdal Police Station where they wanted police to join them in raiding the homes of foreign nationals whom the residents accuse of committing crime in the township.

Gauteng Department of Education spokesperson Steve Mabona condemned the disruption of schools.

"No matter how angry the community is, they are not supposed to remove pupils from schools. We understand frustrations in our communities. We plead with community members not to include pupils in their protests," Mabona said.

Meanwhile, residents of the nearby Munsieville township gathered on a hill in the area on a mission to search for suspected illegal miners. Residents, armed with sticks and knobkerries, searched two shafts where they claimed the zama zamas were hiding. They barricaded several roads in the area with large rocks.

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