| PORT ELIZABETH

“My cousin was stabbed to death this year … My friend’s uncle was shot seven times”

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Minister promises new police station and anti-gang unit for northern areas of Port Elizabeth

Photo of the police minister
Minister of Police Bheki Cele addressed residents at Chatty Community Centre, Bethelsdorp, on Monday. He committed to bringing a special police force to quell gang violence in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth. Photo: Joseph Chirume
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About 600 people gathered on Monday at the Chatty Community Centre in Bethelsdorp to air their grievances over gang violence which they say has turned the streets of the northern areas of Port Elizabeth into a war zone.

Placards placed at the entrance read: “Stop the genocide” and “Love each other, don’t kill a brother”.

It was the second time in seven days that Minister of Police Bheki Cele had come to reassure residents of his commitment to bring a special police force to quell the violence.

Gary Van Niekerk, a resident who set up a Facebook page — Stop PE Northern Areas Killings — said, “We are indeed the forgotten people. The northern areas stretches 18 kilometers from Kempston Road to Booysens Park … That’s a radius of nine kilometres in which almost 100 people were killed from 1 April 2018 to date.” (GroundUp has not verified these claims.)

“The people of Booysens Park, Extension 31, Timothy Valley, Qunu, Marikana, and Jacksonville are the most marginalised,” he said.

He handed a memorandum to Cele which demanded the deployment of a police anti-gang unit.

He said, “We need more police stations. Booysens Park has been promised a police station almost ten years ago. We need police stations in Cleary Park, Gelvandale, and one each in Kostern and Shauderville.”

Van Niekerk also wants the government to pay a stipend to members of the Community Policing Forums (CPFs). “CPFs perform an important function which is to oversee and assist the police in their task of serving and protecting communities. Not so long ago a commitment was made by your predecessor, Fikile Mbalula, to pay the street patrollers, which hasn’t happened,” he told Cele.

Miselwa Nqabeni, a member of the Booysens Park CPF, said the government is not equipping them with reflectors, batons and other tools. “Each time we need assistance at police stations, we are told there are no vehicles. We want to patrol the streets and reduce crime but our efforts are hampered by lack of equipment to use. We want to end mob justice that has characterised our area. Communities are angry at the lack of police patrols. Hence whenever they apprehend a suspect, they kill them. On the other hand criminals are demanding protection fees from foreign shop owners,” said Nqabeni.

WT (name withheld because she is under 18) who lives in Jacksonville, said, “Many people are dropping out of school to join gangs. My cousin was stabbed to death this year in Extension 11 … My friend’s uncle was also shot seven times in Jacksonville. Both were victims of gangsters … People have died as a result of offering to testify against gangsters.”

Cele said a police taskforce to combat gang violence will soon be deployed. He promised a police station would be built in Booysens Park in the next ten months. Cele urged communities to work together with police in reporting gangsters. He said a dedicated team of prosecutors will be formed to oppose bail for gangsters and drug lords.

© 2018 GroundUp.
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TOPICS:  Policing

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