Communities urged to protect crime fighters

Members of slain Gugulethu crime fighter Lulama Dinginto’s family attended her memorial service last week.

Communities must do more to protect crime fighters, says SA Human Rights Commission chairman Chris Nissen.

He was speaking at a memorial service last Thursday for Gugulethu Community Police Forum deputy chairwoman Lulama “Guffy” Dinginto who was gunned down in her home in the early hours of Sunday December 10.

Her killer kicked in the door to her NY110 backyard flat before shooting the 56-year-old mother of two five times in the head, according to her sister, Nontsomi Mnqothole, who lives in the main house on the property. She said her sister’s cellphone had also been taken along with some of her CPF-related files.

The police are offering a R50 000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for her murder.

Civil servants, police officers, police union representatives, political organisations and others attended the service at the Gugulethu Indoor Sports Complex where concerns were raised about risks faced by community crime fighters in a country where violent crime is rampant.

Mr Nissen said CPFs could only be effective if they had the support of the communities they served.

“We must protect those who are in CPFs. Those people wherever they are – Nyanga, Manenberg, Mitchell’s Plain, Langa – wherever they find themselves, they are under-resourced. Secondly, they live in areas where they are vulnerable, they are vulnerable to criminals. Thirdly we have a situation that we need to work very hard to protect them.

“More importantly they are working with police to strengthen the confidence and trust of the community in the police. Once you kill the crime fighters, the confidence is at a low level, you are destroying further the trust people have in the police.”

Communities had a responsibility to protect CPF members, he said.

“They know who the robbers are, who are the drug dealers, and they know who is destroying the infrastructure, but they keep quiet. They come to the meeting and complain about the government not doing that and that, but the government needs to ensure that there is enough policing and support so that CPF members are not exposed to these dangers. They need to be protected like any member of the blue family.”

Gugulethu CPF chairman Ntandazo Gcingca saluted Ms Dinginto and other CPF members for their bravery and commitment, and said they would continue to risk their lives to fight crime and protect the community.

Ward 40 councillor Bongani Ngcombolo described Ms Dinginto’s killing as “intimidation of the highest order”.

He added: “We should not keep quiet. We are making a call to SAPS to protect us. This clearly shows you that our criminals do not respect the law and do not respect the lives of community members who are here to serve and protect the community. We call on the law to protect us as we do not want people taking the law into their hands.”

A member of Ms Dinginto’s family, Andiphile Mbalu, said: “We are still devastated. Maybe with time, we will heal. But we hope, maybe her death will be a turning point for the community of Gugulethu, to change things. She left two kids and it is not nice to lose a mother.”

SA Human Rights Commission chairman Chris Nissen called for communities to do more to protect crime fighters.
Civil servants, police officers, police union representatives, political organisations and others attended the memorial service.