A sorry tale of two settlements
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.