Po­lice min­is­ter vows to ad­dress Chats crime


PO­LICE Min­is­ter Bheki Cele has promised crime-weary Chatsworth res­i­dents – and the rest of the coun­try – that the crime will be ef­fec­tively tack­led, and that they would soon no­tice it.

He said in Pre­to­ria on Mon­day that uni­formed po­lice of­fi­cers, even se­nior ones, would be more vis­i­ble on the streets and there would be reg­u­lar cor­don and search oper­a­tions and road­blocks.

Ded­i­cated teams would be set up for hi­jack­ings, mur­ders, home in­va­sions and other crime, Cele said, promis­ing to also tackle old cases where there had been lit­tle or no in­ves­tiga­tive progress.

Ad­dress­ing the Chatsworth com­mu­nity on Thurs­day, Cele sensed the mood of de­spair and anger among the hun­dreds of lo­cals who at­tended the meet­ing at the Nel­son Man­dela Youth Cen­tre.

Just days ear­lier, 9-year-old Sa­dia Sukhraj was shot in the lat­est of nu­mer­ous hi­jack­ings in the area over the past few years.

Cele said the com­mu­nity and po­lice could not be “pushed back by crim­i­nals”.

“I refuse, I refuse, this has to end,” he said. “One of the things we will be do­ing is im­ple­ment­ing stop-and-search oper­a­tions in full force. And no­body must com­plain.

“Any­body that has war­rant of ar­rests, il­le­gal firearms or are un­li­censed will be ar­rested. We will also tackle those that abuse women and drugs. For­get about the small fish for drugs, we are go­ing for the big deal­ers. We will be putting out nets to catch the sharks.”

To show how se­ri­ous he is, he autho­rised his top of­fi­cials to give their con­tact num­bers to mem­bers of the public.

“These phones are not their per­sonal num­bers, they do not pay the bills, it is paid for by you, so you are en­ti­tled to have their num­bers,” he said to ap­plause. “I am mak­ing them avail­able to you, but not to find out how they are, only when you have a prob­lem.”

Res­i­dents spoke of the in­creas­ing crime, po­lice cor­rup­tion, and the al­legedly harsh way pro­test­ers were treated by po­lice out­side the lo­cal SAPS sta­tion. Po­lice used tear gas and rub­ber bul­lets when the sit­u­a­tion be­came heated. Sev­eral peo­ple were in­jured.

Of­fer­ing pos­si­ble so­lu­tions to com­bat the crime surge, res­i­dent Dean Pa­day­achee told the meet­ing there needed to be more po­lice vis­i­bil­ity and the army should be brought into the area.

“When you see po­lice ve­hi­cles sta­tioned at dif­fer­ent points in Chatsworth it will serve as a de­ter­rent for crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, and in case of emer­gen­cies, res­i­dents can alert them, which I think is very im­por­tant,” he said.

An­other res­i­dent, Kesi Singh, said the gap be­tween po­lice and the com­mu­nity needed to be bridged, while Denise Ganas spoke about the lack of as­sis­tance from the po­lice a year af­ter her hus­band’s vi­o­lent death.

“My hus­band was shot dead and daugh­ter in­jured in the hi­jack­ing. Do you know what I got? Three peo­ple, who came to my home to of­fer their con­do­lences, but wait, there was more. The one was more wor­ried about how she looked in the pic­ture taken by the me­dia and re­quested a do-over. Is that what it is all about, is that how you show sup­port?

Said Ganas: “We want an­swers. There are too many fam­i­lies that are still reel­ing in pain from their loss and are with­out an­swers and with­out jus­tice. That is all we want.”

There was also a call for a satel­lite po­lice sta­tion to be placed along Link Road in Shall­cross, and for spe­cialised units tack­ling drugs and hi­jack­ings to be ac­ces­si­ble and vis­i­ble.

A com­mit­tee, com­prised of res­i­dents, was formed at the meet­ing which would aid in giv­ing feed­back to the com­mu­nity.

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