A sorry tale of two set­tle­ments

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

Two in­for­mal set­tle­ments in coastal sub­urbs in Cape Town have be­come vig­i­lante at­tack hotspots, with re­cent un­rest in one area mir­ror­ing what has been hap­pen­ing in the other. This week in Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay, a woman was mur­dered and dozens of com­mu­nity mem­bers gath­ered at the lo­cal po­lice sta­tion to de­mand of­fi­cers de­tain the man they sus­pect killed her. They also burned de­bris in the main road to the set­tle­ment. In Masi­phumelele, near Fish Hoek, a man who had been ac­cused of drug deal­ing, was killed in a mob jus­tice at­tack. Res­i­dents of Imizamo Yethu say they have be­come weary of po­lice, while those in Masi­phumelele have warned they do not trust the po­lice and will again take the law into their own hands if they feel it’s nec­es­sary. re­ports A MASI­PHUMELELE com­mu­nity leader has warned that res­i­dents are hell­bent on rid­ding the area of crim­i­nals and will con­tinue go­ing af­ter them.

This fol­lows yet an­other vig­i­lante mur­der in the in­for­mal set­tle­ment about a week ago.

“We are search­ing for the drug deal­ers. We can’t rest un­til there are no more drug deal­ers,” said Non­tem­biso Madikane, a com­mu­nity leader.

“We don’t trust the po­lice any­more.”

She said res­i­dents were wary of po­lice be­cause of­fi­cers did not seem to be ar­rest­ing known drug deal­ers in the area.

Masi­phumelele has re­cently been the scene of sev­eral vig­i­lante mur­ders and protests.

Res­i­dents also re­peat­edly clashed with po­lice who have been sta­tioned out­side the in­for­mal set­tle­ment for weeks.

The sit­u­a­tion has be­come so volatile that po­lice are hes­i­tant to set up a tem­po­rary com­mu­nity cen­tre to deal with crime.

Two weeks ago, dur­ing the bail ap­pli­ca­tion of an­other com­mu­nity leader ac­cused of lead­ing vig­i­lante at­tacks, it emerged that eight peo­ple had been killed in Masi­phumelele since mid-Septem­ber.

The ninth was killed on Sun­day in an in­ci­dent in which a po­lice car was torched.

Madikane told Week­end Ar­gus a man was sus­pected of hav­ing sold drugs to chil­dren. Res­i­dents ap­proached him in a bid to get him out the area.

“He started fight­ing against them,” she said. The man was then at­tacked.

Po­lice spokes­woman Con­sta­ble Noloyiso Rwex­ana said the man was set alight, and died at the scene.

Rwex­ana con­firmed a po­lice car had been set alight.

“Cases of mur­der and ma­li­cious dam­age to property are un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. No one has been ar­rested at this stage.”

In early Septem­ber Deputy Po­lice Min­is­ter Mag­gie So­tyu said it was planned to open a satel­lite po­lice sta­tion in Masi­phumelele.

But this week it emerged the on­go­ing violence had pre­vented the set­ting up of a tem­po­rary com­mu­nity cen­tre to seal with crime un­til the satel­lite po­lice sta­tion could open.

Provin­cial po­lice com­mu­ni­ca­tions head Bri­gadier Novela Potelwa said a se­cu­rity as­sess­ment was be­ing done to see if it was safe enough to set up the tem­po­rary cen­tre.

“Plans are cur­rently un­der way be­tween the po­lice and the City of Cape Town to find a site or source premises for a satel­lite po­lice sta­tion.”

But Sun­day’s violence had fur­ther de­layed the plan.

Violence ini­tially broke out in the area on Septem­ber 15 when two men were mur­dered hours af­ter 14-year-old Amani Pula was found killed and ap­par­ently raped in his home.

In a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent on the same morn­ing that the teen’s body was found, a 24-year-old woman was raped.

About a week af­ter that res­i­dents fa­tally at­tacked a man and beat an­other.

They sus­pected the duo of be­ing re­spon­si­ble for bur­glar­ies in the area.

Seven men were ar­rested dur­ing the at­tacks on the two men and when they ap­peared in court a week later af­ter be­ing held in cus­tody, a mas­sive protest erupted, with the more than 1 000 res­i­dents turn­ing on po­lice.

Last month com­mu­nity leader Luba­balo Vellem was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of be­ing be­hind a vig­i­lante mur­der and vi­o­lent protests in the area.

His ar­rest sparked new protests there, with hun­dreds of res­i­dents gath­er­ing out­side the Si­mon’s Town Mag­is­trate’s Court when Vellem ap­peared to ap­ply for bail.

He was re­leased on bail about two weeks ago.

The case against him is ex­pected to re­sume in Jan­uary. THE mur­der of an Imizamo Yethu res­i­dent this week has an­gered the com­mu­nity and sparked fresh fears that vig­i­lante at­tacks may en­sue.

About three months ago, when violence peaked in the area, more than 1 000 men pa­trolled the in­for­mal set­tle­ment each night in a bid to curb crime, af­ter in­tense fight­ing be­tween two ri­val gangs re­sulted in about five mur­ders.

Sus­pected gang­sters were among those killed, and some res­i­dents blamed the pa­trollers for the mur­ders.

The pa­trols con­tin­ued and the sit­u­a­tion re­cently calmed, but flared again on Tues­day af­ter the body of Zandile Gwax­ula, 34, orig­i­nally from the East­ern Cape, was dis­cov­ered in the in­for­mal set­tle­ment.

That evening scores of pa­trollers blocked the road out­side the Hout Bay po­lice sta­tion to de­mand the ar­rest of the man they sus­pected of killing her.

On Wed­nes­day a group of pa­trollers burned de­bris on the main road into the area.

Com­mu­nity leader Man-OMan Mazele told Week­end Ar­gus res­i­dents were fu­ri­ous about Gwax­ula’s mur­der.

They were also not sure whether the man they sus­pected of stran­gling her, and who they had iden­ti­fied to po­lice, had been ar­rested.

“Ev­ery­one is shocked. I think the pa­trollers will show their force now,” Mazele said. The sit­u­a­tion in Imizamo Yethu was be­com­ing sim­i­lar to that of Masi­phumelele.

“It’s like the com­mu­ni­ties are do­ing the work of po­lice.”

Gwax­ula’s body was found near a sedan taxi rank in Imizamo Yethu at 6.40am on Tues­day. She had been with a group of friends the pre­vi­ous evening.

Her cousin, Bel­lion Ndza­kayi, said it was be­lieved that Gwax­ula got a lift with a friend that night.

He be­lieved she was last seen alive with that friend.

Ndza­kayi said res­i­dents told po­lice of the friend’s where­abouts.

“They heeded the call to work with po­lice,” he said.

But it was not clear what had hap­pened sub­se­quently, which had left res­i­dents an­gry.

“It’s un­be­liev­able. My cousin was grue­somely killed.”

Ndza­kayi added that Gwax­ula had left Imizamo Yethu to re­turn to her fam­ily in the East­ern Cape in the sec­ond week of Oc­to­ber. But a friend had per­suaded her to change her mind and come back.

“The night she was killed the pa­trollers were do­ing their rounds. But when she was mur­dered they were not in the vicin­ity. I think she was killed at 1am on Tues­day…

“This is so bad, and worse for her fam­ily back home in the East­ern Cape be­cause they feel they shouldn’t have let her come back here.”

He was plan­ning Gwax­ula's fu­neral and ar­rang­ing to have her body re­turned to the East­ern Cape af­ter the post-mortem was com­plete.

Po­lice spokes­woman Con­sta­ble Noloyiso Rwex­ana said Gwax­ula’s mur­der was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“No one has been ar­rested at this stage,” she said.

● Any­one with any in­for­ma­tion about the case should call CrimeStop on 08600 10111.


WOR­RIES: The res­i­dents of Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay are con­cerned the mur­der of a woman there ear­lier this week could re­sult in vig­i­lante at­tacks tak­ing place as her sus­pected killer has not yet been ar­rested. The in­for­mal set­tle­ment was the scene of gang and mob jus­tice killings ear­lier this year.


CALM: Res­i­dents of Masi­phumelele near Fish Hoek get back to work in the area this week fol­low­ing a vig­i­lante mur­der there last Sun­day. The in­for­mal set­tle­ment has be­come so volatile po­lice are wor­ried about set­ting up a tem­po­rary com­mu­nity cen­tre to deal with crime.

Zandile Gwax­ula

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