‘Com­mu­ni­ties feel ne­glected’

The New Age (Free State) - - NORTH WEST NEWS - ZO­DIDI MHLANA zo­didim@the­newage.co.za

IN­DE­PEN­DENT polic­ing re­searcher Dr Jo­han Burger be­lieves that law en­force­ment agen­cies should work with com­mu­ni­ties to pre­vent res­i­dents from tak­ing the law into their own hands.

Burger said poor com­mu­ni­ties of­ten re­sort to tak­ing the law into their hands as they have no con­fi­dence in the po­lice.

“It’s a com­bi­na­tion of things that need to be done. The po­lice need to be on top of their game to re­gain the trust of their com­mu­ni­ties. When they re­ceive calls from com­mu­ni­ties about crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties tak­ing place, they need to act on that in­for­ma­tion when there’s a need for them to de­tain the sus­pect,” Burger said.

His re­marks come af­ter com­mu­nity mem­bers in Rusten­burg re­cently set alight three houses, ac­cus­ing the oc­cu­pants of be­ing in­volved in il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties.

On a num­ber of oc­ca­sions, res­i­dents have taken the law into their own hands.

In March last year, pro­vin­cial po­lice com­mis­sioner Lt Baile Motswenyane ex­pressed con­cern about sev­eral in­ci­dents of mob jus­tice in the prov­ince.

Motswenyane said the po­lice were in­ves­ti­gat­ing 40 cases of vigilantism with a num­ber of sus­pects be­hind bars.

Last week, four peo­ple ac­cused of ston­ing a 50-yearold man to death dur­ing a mob jus­tice at­tack ap­peared in the Brits Mag­is­trate’s Court.

The man was killed af­ter be­ing ac­cused of rap­ing a teenage girl.

In Fe­bru­ary last year, two men were set alight by an­gry com­mu­nity mem­bers who ac­cused them of steal­ing a car in Free­dom Park phase one in Pho­keng in the North West.

In 2015, two peo­ple were killed in Son­dela sec­tion in Boitekong.

Burger said such at­tacks were preva­lent in poor com­mu­ni­ties where res­i­dents felt ne­glected.

“Very of­ten, com­mu­ni­ties out of des­per­a­tion com­mit acts of vi­o­lence such as burn­ing or de­stroy­ing prop­erty be­cause they feel left be­hind or ne­glected by au­thor­i­ties in terms of ser­vices such as wa­ter and lights.

They feel that the state has for­got­ten about them and feel that they have to re­sort to th­ese kinds of vi­o­lence to draw at­ten­tion to their prob­lems.

“It’s im­por­tant that we have aware­ness cam­paigns in com­mu­ni­ties in­form­ing peo­ple about their rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. What re­course they have if their com­plaints are not ad­dressed. They need to be in­formed about the al­ter­na­tives avail­able to them.”

NE­GLECT: Res­i­dents re­sort to vi­o­lence in des­per­a­tion.

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