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.