‘Corrupt cops biggest issue’

PREVENTION FIRST: A number of community safety stakeholders met at the town hall on Thursday with, from left, Enoch Mgijima community safety political head Adele Hendricks and police provincial director of community police relations Neil Naidoo Picture: ZOLILE MENZELWA

LAX and corrupt police officials came under fire during the inaugural community safety stakeholder engagement session at the town hall last Thursday.

Enoch Mgijima community safety political head Adele Hendricks fired the first salvo, calling some of the police arrogant and accused them of being “in their comfort zones”.

“I once reported a drug dealer to the police but that person was informed by the police that I had reported him.

“Drugs are not a joke – it is a demon in our communities.”

Investors would not be interested in a place ridden with crime.

Hendricks said community policing forums (CPF) were a constant headache for corrupt police officers. Strong crime- fighting non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Isolomzi should help other communities start neighbourhood watches.

Nomzamo neighbourhood watch chairman Mnqophiso Naye said the main problem with the police was that some members were working with criminals. He said cases were reported, but nothing happened.

Drugs were confiscated by police but the dealers were then called and told to collect their drugs, he claimed..

“We are trying to clean the streets. Police officers must not stay too long in one place – they should be rotated before they build relations with criminals,” Naye said.

Naye also referred to dissatisfaction with the handling of the rape and murder of three-year- old Liyabona Sopitshi in 2010, after which three men were later arrested. One of the accused, Mzuvukile Gum, had told the court he would be murdered after he turned state witness.

He was later found murdered at the Sada Correctional Facility.

The case was withdrawn and has not returned to court.

Isolomzi chairwoman Ayanda Mngxale, a trained reservist, said the police obviously had to follow procedures.

“But if we hear of a stolen laptop, we can easily go and find the suspect and he leads us to the laptop. Police can then come in and arrest,” she said.

Police provincial director of community-police relations, Neil Naidoo, said neighbourhood watches had to be careful if they planned to apprehend people or conduct searches, as they could be placing their lives at risk.

“We check if people have criminal records before we allow them to serve on CPFs.

“However, we have not been able to do that with neighbourhood watches, so CPFs must endorse the neighbourhood watches.”

CPFs were equal partners with the police and station commanders must attend CPF meetings. Work by the CPF and neighbourhood watches must be in line with the Constitution.

An interim committee was established with members Hendricks, ward 25 councillor Lulama Rasmosi, Isolomzi chair Ayanda Mngxale and Mlungisi CPF chairwoman Samatha Alexander, municipal chief traffic officer Edmund Winnaar and Adre Bartis of Border Kei Chamber of Business, sector manager warrant officer Heidi Nel, Nomawande Peter from social development, safety and liaison department manager Sizwe Skwebu, Williams Dunjwa and Michael Winnaar.

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