Residents of Marikana informal settlement, in Philippi, have “banned” the South African Police Services (SAPS) from the area and vowed to “deal with them accordingly” if they entered Marikana.
More than 400 angry residents from the informal settlement and nearby areas marched to the Philippi East police station on Saturday September 16, demanding the release of residents suspected of assaulting and killing alleged criminals last week. The alleged criminals were assaulted and killed in separate incidents.
Residents accused the police of failing to do their work and threatened to shut down the police station.
The officers were forced to use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the angry crowd who were burning tyres next to the station.
The residents said they were living in fear and despite numerous attempts at building a relationship with the police, had not been able to do so.
Nomaswazi Khethiwe said her young sister had been hit by a stray bullet in both legs while packing clothes inside their shack in Marikana. She said the bullet entered her left leg and and then her right leg, where it became lodged. “My sister is now bedridden,” she said.
Ms Khethiwe claimed that when she reported this to police, she was told there was nothing they could do to assist them.Ward councillor Mboniswa Ncitha said police told them during a meeting last week that they were unable to fight crime in their area – a statement which shocked the community and left them feeling demoralised and confused.
Mr Ncitha said through the march, residents hoped to bring attention to their concerns. He said he wanted the provincial management of the police to intervene before more innocent lives were lost.
He described Marikana as one of the most dangerous areas in the city. “We want our police officers to patrol this area every day and night. Women and young girls are raped here almost every day. People don’t feel safe here,” he said.
Philippi community leader, Ncedo Marikeni, said they did not understand why there was only one police van available to service the entire area and that they wanted Metro police officers to be deployed in the area to intensify the fight against crime.
Station commander, Major General Sizakhele Dyantyi, said the residents had been arrested on Friday September 15, on charges of assault and murder. He said investigations into the killings were ongoing. “These people are not going to be released and the law should be allowed to take its course,” he said.