| JOHANNESBURG

Cele promises corruption probe at Sophiatown police station

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National Commissioner Khehla Sitole to report back to Westbury residents

photo of minister talking to crowd
Police Minister Bheki Cele addressed Westbury residents at a mass meeting about crime and policing in the area. Photo: Zoe Postman
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Minister of Police Bheki Cele has promised residents of Westbury in Johannesburg that a Tactical Response Team will be deployed to the area immediately to deal with violent criminals, mostly drug dealers.

They would patrol the streets to “push back the gangs”, he said.

Cele was addressing a mass meeting called on Tuesday after violence erupted on Monday during a protest against crime and lack of policing in the area. The protests started last Friday after a woman and a girl were caught in crossfire the previous day. The woman was shot dead and the girl was injured. Two suspects have been arrested.

Cele asked the community to give the police three days to find the other two suspects involved in Thursday’s shooting.

He also said a special investigation into alleged corruption at Sophiatown police station would be opened by the National Commissioner Khehla Sitole. Cele asked that residents give Sitole one day to provide feedback on the investigation.

“We are committing ourselves, which includes me, to come back to this community next week and work with you on the issues you have raised … We want to make sure that we clean the streets of gangsters, we allow you to sleep better and we make sure that drug lords are chased and found,” Cele said.

He said he would also invite other ministers to hear residents’ concerns next week.

After the meeting, Cele visited the family of the woman and child who were caught in the crossfire on Thursday.

Westbury resident Denzil Jones said communities which had been classified as coloured had been “marginalised and downtrodden for years”. He said promises had been made to Westbury residents over the years but nothing had changed.

“In the previous dispensation, we were not white enough, now we are not black enough … We have been ostracised for years and this needs to stop,” said Jones, addressing Cele at the mass meeting.

Another Westbury resident, Valdine Lang, said she was not satisfied with Cele’s promises. She said Cele had made promises to the community when he was National Commissioner of the South African Police Service but he had not kept them.

“On Thursday a nine or ten-year-old girl was lying in an alley looking at her mother who was shot dead.”

“When the children are involved in these protests it’s because they are fighting for their own lives as well. Kids as young as nine or ten have to fling stones at the police because they are not doing anything to help us,” said Lang.

She said the community had gone to the police with names and addresses of drug dealers but police had not taken action.

“The only thing I have to ask is whether the police are also in the drug dealers’ pockets,” said Lang.

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TOPICS:  Policing

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