Khaya residents march against crime

Ludwe Vara, secretary to ward councillor Thando Mpengesi, reads out their memorandum of grievances.

Crime has robbed residents of their joy and they have no freedom of movement, say those who marched to Khayelitsha police station last week.

More than 50 residents of Ward 91, mostly senior citizens, braved the scorching hot weather last Friday, November 23, to gather outside the station and hand over a memorandum of grievances to police management.

Led by ward councillor Thando Mpengesi, they were armed with placards and raised their concerns that crime has increased in Site B and nearby areas.

They said criminals were ruling the streets and called on police to be more visible and to most importantly, respond quickly when called to a crime scene.

Mr Mpengesi said residents could not walk in the streets in the day or night for fear of criminals.

Among those being targeted were senior citizens who lived either alone or with their grandchildren.

He worried that the festive season would see many house robberies.

However, Mr Mpengesi said this march was about reclaiming their communities. He said they felt that police officers were sluggish in their fight against crime in their communities.

He said the harsh reality was that Khayelitsha police station alone was servicing 24 informal settlements and the whole community of Site C were dependent on this very same station.

This, he said, has at some point made it extremely difficult for police officers to execute their job.

He said the march was also about asking for more police officers to be deployed in their communities. The other gripes they had included police officers using the official vehicles for their private use and police officers being rude to senior citizens.

He said they had decided to follow proper procedures in terms of voicing their frustrations and concerns in the march.

However, he said if their concerns were not attended to then they had no choice but to resort to other means to raise their anger. “We won’t be ruled by criminals. We want police officers to tighten their grip in the fight against crime. We are tired of living in fear.

“We want police officers to take the fight against crime seriously. We want better service rendered at the station,” he said.

Khayelitsha station commander ,Brigadier Mkhusele Nkwintshi, said he has received the memorandum of grievances and would immediately have a meeting with the station management to look at each complaint.

He said he would then have a meeting with the leaders to respond to these grievances and draft a way forward. But he said some of these grievances were not related to the police.

Resident Nobelungu Maqhina said she decided to join the march because she wanted to add her voice to this matter.

Ms Maqhina said crime has robbed them of joy and freedom of movement as they constantly fear for their safety and lives. She described Site B as one of the most dangerous areas in the province.