12 May 2017

South Africa: Pietermaritzburg Police Organise March Against Crime

A few hundred people from across Msunduzi municipality marched against crime in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday. The march was organised by government and the Plessislaer police station. According to the chairperson of the Plessislaer Community Policing Forum, Sfiso Mavundla, the protest was sparked by the high rate of hijackings and other crime in Pietermaritzburg.

People came from Caluza, Ashdown, Dambuza, Esigodini, Imbali Units and Smero to march.

Mavundla spoke out against drug abuse, rape of elderly people, selling of drugs, housebreaking and vigilantism. He said the policing forum in the Plessislaer cluster wanted the community to be involved in fighting crime.

"We are not encouraging the community to take the law into their own hands. We want to them to be guards in their own communities. We want residents to report crime to the police. ... Government department cars have been stolen. The Department of Health have lost six cars in a space of six months. Perpetrators attack ambulances and hurt ambulance drivers. ... Ambulances don't reach their destination where they have been called to provide help," he said.

However some marchers and observers expressed scepticism. An Ashdown resident who asked not to be named said she has lost hope in the police especially at Plessislaer. "It's a good call ... if it were police from other police station, maybe we would pay attention. People here will tell you that Plessislaer police station is not helpful. They are famous for being negligent and lazy. Cases are reported but they never take them seriously," said the resident.

Mhlengi Goba from Caluza said, "This is a waste of time. Our police from our police station work there to pay their bills. You see, with whoonga drug cases, they don't care. They do nothing. What happens is people beat up whoonga addicts because our police don't care. That is why people take law in their own hands. And we will never stop that unless they attend these cases. If ever it happens that they arrest them, you see the addict the next day walking out freely. Once they take their job seriously that is when the crime rate will decrease."

Communications Officer for the Plessislaer cluster, Mthokozisi Ngobese, said he has noted complaints from residents who are unhappy about the police. He said people are free to contact him or the station commander. "Residents must be clear and be specific about the cases they are complaining about. If they have reported a case and the case is neglected, they must report the police. They are entitled, to write the name of the police officer who failed to take responsibility and report him. As the Communications Officer I will attend to the matter," said Ngobese.

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