South Africa: We Don't Need the Police Anymore - Anger After Philippi East's Bloody Weekend

About 100 residents of Hanover Park blocked streets protesting against gang violence in their community on July 3, 2019.

A bloody weekend which saw 13 people killed in Philippi East is a clear indication that police are losing the battle against the "war and mayhem" plaguing the province's most violent crime-ridden precincts.

This is according to Xolisa Pukayi, the Philippi East ward committee member for safety and security who maintained that the police have lost the trust of the people they are employed to protect and serve.

"We don't need [police] anymore. They have failed us too many times. We need the army. And if they can't be deployed, we will have to do it ourselves," he told News24.

"People are devastated and living in fear. There is no control in these streets. Order needs to be restored because we have had more than enough now."

72-hour lockdown

The SA Police Service (SAPS) initiated its 72-hour action plan which entails a lockdown and intensive operations by its public order police, K9 Unit and Flying Squad after 13 murder cases were registered since Friday.

The bodies of six young women, aged between 18 and 26, were discovered in Marcus Garvey in the area on Friday night. They had been shot dead.

The motive for the mass murder has not yet been established.

Late on Saturday afternoon the bodies of three men were found in a house in Lower Crossroads. Eight cartridges were believed to have been found at the scene.

That night, three men were gunned down in a shooting at a tavern in Lower Crossroads. Two died - one from a bullet to the head and the other from a shot to his upper body. The third victim was shot in the stomach and survived, sources said.

Two other murder cases were opened. One was for a man from Better Life who had been stabbed in his head and upper body. The other was for a woman whose lifeless body was found behind a shack after she had been stabbed.

Whatever the reason, the community is furious

Pukayi said the motives behind the mass killings were unknown, although there was much speculation that they could be gang-related.

"Whatever the reason for these shootings, the community is furious. The feeling is that we don't need the police anymore because they can't do anything here. This is war and mayhem," he argued.

"Our officers here are running loose without leadership and management because our station commander has been off sick since late last year."

On Sunday, community leaders and residents crowded into the police station where they demanded answers and action following the multiple murders.

A memorandum was also handed over, in which locals demanded improved police performance and the deployment of additional officers to improve visibility.

'Woefully under-resourced'

City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said every time there is a flare-up of violence, it points to the fact that the SAPS in the Western Cape is "woefully under-resourced" compared to the rest of the country.

"Our appeals to national government to address the issue cannot continue to go unheard. We ask - yet again - that they take extraordinary steps to fill the estimated 4 500 policing posts that the Western Cape has lost in the last four years," he said.

The station, in the last financial year, recorded the third highest murder statistics in the country, with 205 cases. This was 55 more than the previous financial year.

According to the provincial Department of Community Safety, the precinct's murder rate has increased by 180% over five years, from 2013/14 to 2017/18.

Philippi East also placed 18th in the country in terms of the highest attempted murder numbers recorded, with 118 cases in its books last year.

'We are indeed facing a crisis'

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said between midnight on Friday and 06:00 on Monday, 55 unnatural deaths resulting from gunshot wounds and sharp objects were reported in the province.

"We are indeed facing a crisis. In June 2018, there were 344 alleged murder admissions; however, in June 2019, there were 448. Of the 448 admissions, 369 were in the metro," he said.

"The figures are deeply chilling and it is for this reason that I have called on the SANDF (SA National Defence Force) to be immediately deployed to our communities. In the past, communities have called for a state of emergency and this is something that the national government needs to consider in a bid to bring peace to the area."

Minister of Police Bheki Cele is expected in Philippi East on Monday afternoon.

Fritz previously said Cele had assured him in a meeting that no fewer than 1 000 new police recruits of the 5 000 currently receiving training would be deployed to the Western Cape.

Cele had, on numerous occasions, rejected the call for army intervention to quell gang violence and rampant crime as they were not trained in policing, or dealing with ordinary citizens, but for military situations.

Source: News24

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