‘Hands off our patrol’

Langa residents who are in support of the Langa Safety Patrol braved the sunny Sunday afternoon to meet to find ways to sustain their patrols.

A number of residents who are in support of the Langa Safety Patrol (LSP) are working to ensure that it remains operational.

They met face to face on Sunday afternoon for the first time since reports that LSP members were arrested for allegedly assaulting a man who later died in hospital (“Vigilantism won’t be tolerated”, Vukani, January 12).

The residents claim certain individuals in Langa are trying to bring down the LSP. On Sunday, they said they were looking for solutions to address what they see as yet another threat to the already beleaguered patrol.

Organisers and representatives of community groups convened at an open space just next to the Guga’sthebe cultural centre.

In unison, community members pledged to intensify efforts to support the LSP and urged all residents to make sure that they attend the court appearance on Thursday February 23 in Bishop Lavis.

Organiser Zongamele Baliso said the meeting’s message was simple: hands off the LSP. He said the patrol was formed to assist the residents and has proven beyond that it passed the mandate. He said when the patrol was given a mandate by the people‚ it served it with dignity.

“Our patrol is our police station. I am not apologetic to say again that the LSP has become our police station. If they want to disband or abolish it, the high safety department must prove to us otherwise. We are aware that there are people who are working very hard to abolish it. As long as we live, this patrol is going nowhere,” he told the roaring crowd.

He said LSP remains the hope of Langa people, but because of its work, some people do not like it. He added that as residents they are willing to support it because its members have sacrificed their lives for all the Langa residents. “They have recovered cellphones, furniture and many other items from the thieves. The very same police, when the boys are fighting with pangas on the streets, they pass as if nothing is happening. We cannot keep quiet when these people are taken for a ride. This is a Langa initiative that has proven beyond doubt that they do their job,” he said.

Mr Baliso said if the police or any other individual wanted LSP out, they need to prove to them by working for the community or putting up a better opposition. He said the station commander was invited to the public meeting to clarify a few things but refused to come.

“That he called out people who were once assaulted by the patrol to come forward was not clear to us. I invited him to come and speak to us about the memorandum we once gave them. But I must say the patrol so far is the best that we have,” he said.

Among the things the community plans to do is to create a petition in support of the LSP. The LSP said it won’t comment on the meeting because it was organised by the community.

In response for not attending the meeting, Langa station commander, Colonel Tebogo Jacobs said he indicated that police cannot be part of the meeting and provided the reasons. “We cannot discuss the matter that is before the court and the concerns of the LSP is the in house issue that needs the SAPS and the Community Policing Forum and I cannot go and respond to the memorandum I know nothing about,” he responded.

In last week’s Vukani, Langa police raised concerns over an upsurge in the number of people killed in cases of mob justice in the area.

This is after Sithembele Ndutyana was allegedly beaten to death by a mob.

He died in hospital from the injuries he sustained in the attack.

Langa police said they were informed of a person who was allegedly assaulted by LSP and who died at Vanguard Community Health Centre (day hospital).

Colonel Jacob, condemned the killing and said police would not hesitate to arrest perpetrators of crime.

The irate residents have vowed to support their patrols who they said have sacrificed their lives for them.