On Friday April 14, a group of residents from Siqalo Informal settlements in Philippi marched to Samora Machel police station to demand proactive and visible policing in the area to protect their school-going children from criminals.
The community and its leaders came with their children to demand protection. On the day of the march, scores of children missed school to be part of the march. Community leader Thelma Tshabile said the problem with criminals started when residents captured a cellphone thief three months ago and beat him to death. The alleged thief had said that he was with three others.
“We came to the police station to demand a meeting with the parents of Samora Machel and also to demand protection from the police. Our children are now victimised by these criminals seeking revenge. It was for that reason that we decided to march,” she said.
She also appealed to the community, and in particular parents of Samora Machel, to monitor their children who she said were always in Siqalo to sell and snatch mobile phones.
“We have a problem with the children from this area. They are always in our area to sell mobile phones and snatch ours in return. We are concerned because they are very young, around 14 years. That is why we feel that the meeting with parents from here can yield better results. But now we demand the protection of our children. They are threatened by these criminals,” she concluded.
The marchers said they feared that the threats from the criminals could escalate to bloodshed and pleaded for sanity.
Siqalo has no schools so children from the area attend school in Samora Machel.
Samora Machel police met with the marchers and advised them on strategies to take. They promised to help but said they could not be every corner, all the time. They advised that unemployed parents accompany their children to school.
Police admitted that crime in Samora Machel is massive. They said it was difficult to police the area because in some informal settlements there are no streets and the potholes are not making their job easier.
Police spokesman Constable Siviwe Gaqa said police would do all they could but it could not accompany children to school and back.
“We are facing different crimes here that we need to attend to. Hijacking is high and robbery. We are willing to assist the Siqalo children but their parents, especially those who are not working, can also help. But we can say that we are meeting with the Community Policing Forum to see when we can meet with the Siqalo parents. That meeting is on the cards,” he confirmed.
Samora Machel CPF secretary Siya Nondwebi also confirmed that they will be meeting with the Siqalo residents soon.