Philippi residents pile the pressure on Mbalula, De Lille

Cape Town - Two people who can be directly linked to the killing of 11 people at Marikana informal settlement, west of Cape Town, have been arrested, deputy provincial police commissioner Major General Mpumelelo Manci said during a picket outside his office on Thursday.

"Two people have been arrested as we speak," said Manci, after receiving a copy of a memorandum delivered by around 300 angry residents of Marikana, which is around the corner from the Philippi East police station.

The group had earlier held a protest outside the Cape Town Civic Centre in central Cape Town's Foreshore carrying posters of Mayor Patricia de Lille.

They demanded that the City of Cape Town immediately install lighting in the sprawling shack settlement.

They also want the city to act on a court order to negotiate with provincial and national government for the purchase or expropriation of the privately owned land, on which the settlement has been built so that the area, which has no serviced toilets, can be improved.

This is in line with a recent court judgment by the Western Cape High Court's Judge Chantel Fortuin.

The land is privately owned but the owners believe it would be disastrous to evict about 60 000 people who have settled there.

They approached the court to order expropriation or purchase to ease the suffering of residents who have been living in limbo. Fortuin gave government two months from the date of her judgment at the end of August to report back to her on what they had decided to do.

The protesters also carried posters of Police Minister Fikile Mbalula with the words ""Wanted for perpetuating apartheid structural violence" on them, and a banner explaining that all they had left to turn to was vigilantism because the police were not helping them.

On Friday night, September 29, 11 people were killed and three were injured at a shooting that started at a bar deep into the warren of shacks in Marikana. This followed a similar mass shooting in the area on Monday, September 25, during which seven people were killed.

'Bloody footnote'

At the civic centre leg of the protest, a memorandum was read out loud with a row of police in riot gear standing as a buffer between the protesters and the building.

Provincial police HQ Western Cape (Jenni Evans, News24)

"Five years after the Marikana massacre in North West province, a bloody footnote was added to that tragedy this past week in the Marikana informal settlement, Philippi East, Cape Town," read an extract of the memorandum prepared by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC).

"[Eighteen] people were killed in the settlement named after, and in solidarity with, the Marikana community. The killings have residents afraid for their lives," the memorandum continued.

Thirty-four miners were shot and killed on August 16, 2012 by the police during a strike at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, Rustenburg.

The memorandum was addressed to De Lille, acting National Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Lesetja Mothiba, community safety MEC Dan Plato, provincial police ombudsman Vusi Pikoli, and Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride.

The protesters said the City of Cape Town and the police had long been aware of Marikana's problems but resource allocation was still skewed against poor black residents in favour of rich people in suburbs such as Constantia.

Mbalula blamed for problems

The memorandum said that the community had lost faith in the police, and vigilantism was rearing its head in the vacuum.

Banners and posters at a march to highlight community concerns over policing in Marikana and Philippi East (Jenni Evans, News24)

They also want proper lighting and sanitation, but most of all they want the privately owned land of Marikana to be expropriated so that the lives of residents can start improving.

"It is tragic that we had to wait for 11 people to be killed in one weekend for people to see how difficult life is there," said SJC deputy general secretary Mandisa Dyantyi on the sidelines of the Civic Centre protest.

Since the shooting, Police Minister Mbalula, his deputy Bongani Mkongi, MEC for community safety Plato and provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula have descended on the Philippi East police station. On Tuesday, a massive community meeting was held at the school opposite the police station.

The community mostly blamed Mbalula for the policing problems, but his quips and jokes leavened the atmosphere.

On Saturday police said four people had been arrested, and then on Tuesday Mbalula said five "kingpins" had been arrested, along with another 45 people for various "petty" crimes, during a massive police sweep of the area. Further details of these arrests were not available.

120 extra police officers

Mbalula also announced a change in command, with Colonel Bongani Mtakati taking over at the police station, and another 40 police officers fresh out of police college due to be sent to the area.

Banners and posters at a march to highlight community concerns over policing in Marikana and Philippi East (Jenni Evans, News24)

 But Dyantyi said Mbalula was just setting the new police officers up for failure because they do not have the experience yet to handle such a volatile situation.

Meanwhile, at the memorandum handover at the provincial police headquarters, Manci said that another 120 officers were being sent to the area from "national", for the wider area, and the 40 other officers would start in December. They would also help the community set up a community policing forum.

"We are going to clean that place," the deputy provincial police commissioner said.

However, the protesters still want a meeting, on Monday, with officials from the city, the police and IPID to find out exactly what they are all doing to help the residents of Marikana.

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