Cele calls for peace but Jeppestown residents vow to continue attacks

Police Minister Bheki Cele preparing to address residents of Jeppe hostel. (Ntwaagae Seleka, News24)
Police Minister Bheki Cele preparing to address residents of Jeppe hostel. (Ntwaagae Seleka, News24)

Jeppestown residents in Johannesburg have rejected calls for peace from Police Minister Bheki Cele following days of public violence.

On Tuesday residents attempted to march to Jeppestown police station, where Cele was being briefed by senior police officers in Gauteng.

Police shot stun grenades and rubber bullets at the marchers, who later retreated to a local recreational park where they danced and sang traditional songs, waiting for Cele.

Minutes later, they danced in excitement when seeing Cele arrived.

He walked into the park and addressed the crowd, calling for calm.

Speaking in IsiZulu, Cele pleaded with those gathered to stop attacking shops in the area.

"Let's wait until this weekend for our meeting where we will address all our issues.

"I have spoken to our leaders here and back home and they are aware of the situation," said Cele.

The crowd rejected Cele's call for peace claiming the weekend was too far off and they want all foreign nationals in the area gone before he returns to address them again.

They vowed that they will not stop their attacks and will continue until this weekend.

Cele later addressed the media and announced that he would address the matter at national government level.

He promised that there will be an Imbizo in Jeppestown to address the situation.

Police will continue monitoring the area to prevent more looting from happening, he said.

"We hope that we will work hard as law enforcement agencies to prevent anything that will come up before Sunday.

"We are emphasising the presence of law enforcement until Sunday comes," he said.

Cele said police intelligence agents are on the ground doing their work to prevent more attacks happening in Gauteng.

"Anyone who comes with their thinking that there is no intelligence here, they better think again.

"We will forever improve our work going forward," he promised.

Cele dismissed calls for the deployment of the army in areas in Gauteng.

He said the situation in Gauteng was different to the one in the Western Cape.

"In the Western Cape, we are dealing with gangsters, not here. All we need to do is to lift the presence of the SAPS.

"Police are good for the situation and I think if there is a need we can invite some officers from other provinces. I want to repeat that the SANDF can't be unleashed on communities here," said Cele.

He said residents of Jeppestown were angry after police officers were attacked recently in the CBD by a large group of foreign nationals.

"I have visited streets where shops were burnt. I don't take it that shops were burnt because they were owned by foreign nationals.

"The main vehicle of this problem is criminality and we are dealing with it as the police," said Cele.

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