Councillor clashes with watch members

Dan Plato.

Angry Harare Neighbourhood Watch members have accused their councillor, Anele Gabuza, of being a dictator who does not care about his community.

The neighbourhood members expressed their dissatisfaction over the closure of their offices and moves made to suspend their patrols.

This was done without consulting them.

They accused Mr Gabuza of not listening to them or talking to them about their services. Instead, they claimed, he accused them of being a “bunch of criminals”.

Mr Gabuza, however, dismissed the claims as “absolute nonsense”.

He said the decision to stop the patrol came from concerned youth and that those who were complaining were a few corrupt individuals who had sowed division among patrollers.

“It was not me that stopped them from operating but young people who were concerned about their behaviour. They were doing nothing what they were suppose to do, instead they would sit in the office all day. There were even guys who smoked ganja in front of them. Those are individuals who are confused and selfish,” he angrily said.

Neighbourhood watch secretary Jonguxolo Ngesi accused Mr Gabuza of interfering in issues that did not affect him, saying that immediately after the office was closed, people were robbed.

He said residents had tried to talk to the councillor about the issue, but were given the cold shoulder. He added the area was crime infested and that the patrols were a necessity.

“Since the first day of closure, we have witnessed crime increase, literally on a daily basis. We do not understand how the councillor can do this.

“We now do not know if, he and his group of youths are benefitting from the prevailing chaos and the crime that has increased since they stopped us. All our successes are being compromised and the community is living in fear again,” he said.

Mr Ngesi wrote a letter to Community Safety MEC, Dan Plato, requesting his intervention. He said they were still waiting for a response.

“We want the laws of the country to support and protect us. We were not expecting the councillor to behave in such a fashion. We expected his support, as he had previously promised us,” he said, adding that the neighbourhood watch would not be part of any meeting called by Mr Gabuza to address the issue.

Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator Funyanwa Sobethwa said she was disappointed with the councillor. She said everyone needed to work together to fight rather than fighting each other.

“We were only volunteering not paid. We know some people thought we were getting paid huge sums of money, but it is not like that.

“When they toyi-toyied against us, young people accused us of disrespecting them and their councillor, which is amazing to us. People must know that we are not reporting to the councillor, but to the South African National Civics Organisation (SANCO),” she said.

A meeting for all the stakeholders was scheduled for last night (Wednesday September 21).

Mr Gabuza said he had met with patrollers who were also concerned about the behaviour of certain individuals.

He said he was in support of the patrol and has promised to allocate some of his ward allocation funds to it so that they can have uniforms, radios and stipends.

“Youths realised that they were useless. The discussions with the patrollers are continuing but those individuals are not particpating.

The truth is the office will soon open and operate after the discussions that we are conducting,” Mr Gabuza said.