Manenberg gogo complains of police violence

Nomazotsho Ngova holds bits of her security gate. She says police broke into her Manenberg house looking for drugs and guns. Photo by Nombulelo Damba.

Nombulelo Damba

15 April 2015

A 70-year-old Tambo Village resident says men wearing police uniforms and balaclavas twice forced their way into her house looking for guns and drugs.

Nomazotsho Ngova from Joe Slovo Street said that on Monday night at 11pm, a group of men, some in police uniform, came to her house looking for her grandson Xolani. She said they broke her security gate and kicked her door in, forcing their way into her house.

“I was woken up with blue lights surrounding my house. Three police officers kicked down my front door to get in,” said Ngova. “ I jumped out of bed to see what was happening. They told me they wanted to speak with my grandson privately,” said Ngova. “I was so scared of them.”

She said the men had covered their faces with balaclavas and were not wearing their name tags.

Outside her house were police vehicles and a white Toyota bakkie, she said.

Ngova said this was the second time that men wearing police uniforms and balaclavas had broken into her house looking for guns and drugs they claimed her grandson Xolani had in his possession. Last Thursday the same thing had happened.

Both the South African Police Service (SAPS) and City Metro police denied any knowledge of either incident.

Western Cape police spokesperson Frederick van Wyk advised GroundUp to forward our questions to City of Cape Town Metro police. But the City’s Executive Director for Safety and Security, Richard Bosman, said the City’s law enforcement services had not been involved in any operation at Ngova’s house and referred us back to the SAPS.

“This is bad. I can’t live like this,” Ngova said today. “My house is broken. I’m not safe at all. I’m scared of sleeping here alone.”

I’m not defending my grandson but I think police should consider us when they do these operations. It’s not only affecting those who are accused of being gang members.”

Ngova’s neighbour Sizeka Njana said she was about to go to sleep on Monday night when police arrived at Ngova’s house. She said they surrounded the house, and three of them kicked the door down to get inside.

“I heard them shouting at Xolani, saying he’s a Hard Livings gang member. They kept on shouting at him, asking him where he kept the gun,” said Njana

“This is not right. Mama Ngova is very old to be treated like this. She is a well respected person in this area. I don’t think she was going to refuse to open the door,” said Njana.

Njana said that although it was strange for police to cover their faces, she understood why they might do so.

“We have a problem of gang fights in this area and I think police are also scared of them. As community members we have had several meetings trying to find a solution but we’re not getting anywhere.”

Another neighbour who saw the break-in at Ngova’s house last Thursday told GroundUp she saw six men, two in uniform, wearing balaclavas. She said they came in a white Toyota bakkie.

“I saw them dragging Xolani. They kept on punching him, asking him where he had hidden drugs and a gun. Xolani kept on telling them that he knows nothing. They used a wet dishcloth to cover his mouth and nose, but he told them he knows nothing,” said the neighbour.

She said that when they found nothing at Ngova’s house, the police had let Xolani go.

Ngova said she had gone to Manenberg police station to report Thursday’s incident. The station commander had ordered one of the officers to go with her to check the damage. The officer had promised to return to take her statement but had not come back.

“I don’t know what to do. I want my house fixed. I cannot live like this,” she said.

Van Wyk said Ngova should lodge a complaint with the Manenberg police station commander, SAPS management or the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) so that her allegations could be investigated.

Appropriate action would be taken if her allegations could be substantiated, he said.