Emotions ran high at an anti-crime imbizo in Khikhi, Gugulethu, on Monday February 5, as community members and police blamed each other for crime in the area.
Angry residents lashed out at police for their failure to curb crime, while the cops accused the residents of not supporting them.
More than 100 people from various areas such as Phola Park and Lotus, packed the Lucas Mbembe Hall to engage with Gugulethu police. The meeting was called by the police to address crime in Khikhi and other areas.
According to police, Khikhi is known as the place of “amagoduka” – migrant workers – where residents fight crime on their own. However, things have changed, with crime on the rise.
Sector commander Captain Zwe Aliphathwa Nkani said most people were killed by being stabbed and some shot.
He said he had called the meeting to listen to the people’s concerns and to see how they could bring down crime. He called on them to report crime and to testify in court so that criminals could be sent to jail.
Captain Nkani told residents that police had an obligation to protect people. “Crime is our responsibility, as police, and that of you as residents. Let us fight it and own our areas. Police cannot work in silos. We need to be united to fight it. But I can assure you that as police we have an obligation to keep people safe. We will do that whether you like it or not,” he vowed.
But community members expressed their concerns around volunteering, patrolling and neighbourhood watches.
Men said they feared for their lives and asked if police would assist them should they get hurt. They called on the police to be deployed in the area and patrol with residents.
Women claimed that men refused to be part of the night patrols. Women said the reason for the surge in killings recently was because some people ran drinking spots and others have allowed their children to be criminals.
Irate resident Nomangetshe Mkhuzwana called people to unite and fight crime, especially at the Nyanga train station. He said people were robbed and mugged there in broad daylight. He said police should be visible and work with communities.
Community Police Forum chairperson Sonwabile Magida said there had been meetings to unite the warring factions in the community. However, he told the audience that community members have to be proactive in the fight against crime.“It is important that men and youths be part of the crime fighting. Community members should take their power back. We have had numerous meetings with the factions here. We even took them to the police station but that is not working. But it is in our power to fight crime and protect ourselves from criminals,” he said.