Mbalula promises action from new Station Commander in Phillipi East

Philippi residents observing a minute of silence for those killed last week. Photo by Bernard Chiguvare

After the mass killings in Marikana informal settlement, Cape Town, on the weekend that took 11 lives, the full force of ministerial bluster descended on the area to try reassure a community in shock. Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, continued with his tough talk as he presented a new Station Commander for the Philippi East Police Station.

Philippi Village, Cape Town, South Africa

Thousands of Phillipi residents ululated at the change of Philippi East SAPS Station Commander by Minister of Police on Tuesday.

The Minister visited the area following “mass shooting” incidents at Marikana, Philippi informal settlement last Friday evening leaving 11 people dead. The Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, introduced the new Station Commander and his deputy, and promised 24/7 police visibility in Philippi.

“As from today we are going to deploy police officers corner to corner and from street to street to deal with criminals,” said Minister Fikile Mbalula.

Colonel Bongani Mtakati was presented at a community imbizo in Philippi on Tuesday.

Residents used the imbizo to voice their concern that they have lost faith in police deployed at the station and that there are insufficient police vehicles to patrol the whole area as there are only two vans allocated to about 50,000 residents. They also complained about police refusing to patrol inside Marikana informal settlement and that police  do not respond to memorandums sent by the community regarding the increase in crime levels in the area.

The community proposed that:

  • there should be a complete shutdown of the whole area and every household and any vehicles coming in and going out of the area be searched for dangerous weapons used in criminal activities.
  • a crime intelligence unit should be deployed in the area to stem the supply of ammunition, with police collusion, to the criminals.
  • the entire management and personnel of Philippi East Police Station be removed as some of them are contaminated by criminal activities and are friends of these gangsters.
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Elitsha spoke to some members of the community.

“I am really shocked at last week’s shooting incident. Government should quickly come up with sustainable youth programmes. Such programmes will keep youth away from criminal activities,” says Jazz Ndzima, a spokesperson for one of the the bereaved families.

Ndzima, a gospel singer is worried about who will now take care of the child and girlfriend of the deceased. He described the deceased as a humble person.

“I stayed with him for years and I know he was not a rude person. His girlfriend right now is in a state of shock. She is failing to come to terms with what took place last weekend,” says Ndzima.

Xolisa Pukayi who was driving an Avanza taxi going around Lower Crossroads encouraging people to meet the Minister of Police at Philippi East Community Hall, said, “When we engage police we get shocking responses. They say criminals in the area are now more than the local police so they are failing to control any criminal activities.” Pukayi provided the minutes of one engagement by the community with the police.

Pukayi, 32 says crime has escalated to such an extreme level because of police negligence.

Another lady preferring to remain anonymous said, “To be honest the killing of people in this area is not a new thing. It is an ongoing thing. We have tried to engage with the Philippi East SAPS and the Minister of Police on several occasions but they have not come to our help.”

She says they went to the extent of sending messages on Facebook to the Police Minister’s spokesperson but there was no response.

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“Police has failed us. If one member of a community identifies alleged criminals or anyone illegally in possession of a gun then the police in turn informs that suspect, leaving us vulnerable,” says the anonymous woman, born and bred in Lower Crossroads.

According to her, the community now feels unsafe and she even thinks that the army should be deployed in the area.  She suggests that more youth activities be introduced in Lower Crossroads to engage youth in positive pursuits.

Backyarders and people from other informal settlements established Marikana when they started building shacks on private land opposite Lower Crossroads in 2013. The area does not have electricity and they use the bucket system for sanitation. In 2015, violence broke out between the residents of Marikana and Lower Crossroads over illegal electricity connections.

The City of Cape Town has through the Anti-Invasion Unit continuously been trying to evict the occupiers but in a landmark ruling the Western Cape High Court ruled that the 60,000 people who stay in Marikana cannot be evicted and ordered the City to negotiate with the landowners to purchase the land.

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About Bernard Chiguvare 56 Articles
Originally from Zimbabwe and since 2014 I been contributing to different publications in South Africa. My area of focus as a reporter is on the rights of vulnerable communities and foreign nationals in any country.