Who let ‘Ninja’ slip from jus­tice?

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

WHEN the min­is­ter of po­lice is called on to in­ter­vene in a subur­ban crime nui­sance, you know some­thing is amiss in the safety, polic­ing and jus­tice tri­umvi­rate. That it takes res­i­dents to cry out to so­cial ac­tivist Yusuf Abram­jee for help to se­cure such a com­mit­ment is an even sad­der in­dict­ment.

The is­sue at stake is the re­lease, for the sec­ond time, of a man who earned the nick­name “Fence Ninja” for the stealthy way in which he tra­versed walls and slipped into prop­er­ties in Pre­to­ria’s Gars­fontein area in the dead of night.

Taken at face value, the crimes the man is ac­cused of are rel­a­tively petty, among them tres­pass­ing and theft of items such as bi­cy­cles.

But, while no vi­o­lence has been re­ported, some res­i­dents are so fed up that it could turn nasty if they come face to face with him dur­ing one of his es­capades.

Res­i­dents are en­ti­tled to live se­curely and un­trou­bled in their homes, and it is in­cum­bent on the po­lice to re­spond to the threats they face.

So it was that res­i­dents protested out­side Gars­fontein po­lice sta­tion sev­eral months ago, de­mand­ing ac­tion against the “Ninja” af­ter he had been brought in but then re­leased.

They got the com­mit­ment of the new sta­tion com­man­der that once a strong case could be built, with their help in re­port­ing in­ci­dents, he would be brought to book.

This hap­pened, and when the “Ninja” was shop­ping for lunch, he was brought in.

Ju­bi­la­tion turned to anger as news spread that he had been re­leased again from court with­out charges be­ing pressed.

It is deeply dis­turb­ing that no­body, in­clud­ing the po­lice, seems to know why, or where to go from here.

Where, we won­der, was the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer and why does no­body ap­pear to know what hap­pened to the sus­pect? For how much longer must res­i­dents live in fear and feel de­spair that the po­lice can­not be re­lied upon to make them feel se­cure? What is the role of the courts in this?

We are glad the min­is­ter agreed to get in­volved and we hope that he will act quickly and de­ci­sively against any­one found to have been derelict in ex­e­cut­ing their duty.

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