‘We trip over dead bodies here at night’ – New Monwabisi Park

Community members attending a 'street imbizo' called by the police complained about the lack of basic services such as water, electricity, and the absence of police in the community. As a result, women do not go to use the plastic toilets because it becomes too dark and unsafe to go outside at night. Photo by Nobathembu Ndzengu

Faced with crime and violence on a daily basis, residents of New Monwabisi Park complain that the lack of services contribute to crime in the area.

On Monday, four men and a woman were shot and killed in New Monwabisi Park, Khayelitsha, The informal settlement is one of the newly occupied areas along Baden Powell Drive, and lacks basic infrastructure. Residents attending the ‘street imbizo’ called by the police ministry said the lack of street lights and road ways contributed to the levels of crime in the area.

Community leader, Ntombekhaya Mpasu-Sikhondo said that the lack of basic services fuels crime in the area. “The fact that there are no street lights and it gets pitch dark at night contributes to crime in the area. As women we are at risk of being raped because its dark. Children have to walk to other parts of Khayelitsha to go to school and the fact that they leave early in the morning when its dark, puts the girl children even at a greater risk,” she said.

Sinekhaya Zondani, secretary of the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO), reiterated that the dark emboldens the criminal. “Its gets dark here at night. The area has always been notorious for dumping dead bodies and that is still the case here. We trip over dead bodies here at night. We also want to urge the City of Cape Town to build roads here as police vans and cars can’t access this area. Police vans get stuck in sand here,” said Zondani.

Resident of New Monwabisi Park, Anele Pendze echoed the point about electricity and how it would contribute to crime reduction. Penze also complained about the treatment that they get from law enforcement officers.

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Police Minister Bheki Cele told the hundreds of people who attended the Street Imbizo that they have a lead on three suspects in connection with Monday’s massacre. Cele also said that the time to put party political issues aside to serve the people has come. “We need to put politics aside and serve the people. The next time I come here I want to be accompanied by people from the City of Cape Town and provincial government,” he said.

Xolani Sotashe, councillor and caucus leader for the African National Congress in the City of Cape Town said that they will be engaging committees of the new land occupations around the city to come to a discussion with various departments of the city council on the provision of basic services to the residents. “It won’t help to ask why the people are here but they are here now. We need high mast lights in this area,” said Sotashe.

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