Non-governmental organisation Africa Unite has called on provincial and national government to build another police station in Nyanga and to implement effective strategies to root out escalating crime in the area.
When the latest crime statistics were released in September, Nyanga retained its title as the country’s “murder capital” and despite this, said Africa Unite, government was dragging its feet in the fight against crime in Nyanga.
The organisation said for many years Nyanga residents, the community policing forum (CPF) and advocacy groups had been campaigning for the establishment of a second police station. The organisation believes a second station could play a critical role in helping to reduce crime.
During a visit to New Eisleben High School, in Crossroads, on Thursday November 3, the organisation urged the pupils to sign a petition which appealed to government to respond to concerns raised by the residents. The petition would be handed to Community Safety MEC Dan Plato and police minister Nathi Nhleko.
Unathi Ndiki, youth field worker at Africa Unite, said the petition called for a second and possibly a third fully-fledged police station to be built in Nyanga. She said Crossroads and Browns Farm residents in Philippi were forced to travel long distances to Nyanga police station, putting their lives at risk. She said they also want police stations in townships to establish youth forums to deal with the issues facing young people.
Ms Ndiki claimed that most township police stations did not have trained police officers to counsel victims of crime-mainly rape-which made them reluctant to report their cases.
Ms Ndiki said the organisation had recently established a youth forum to work hand-in-hand with the police to address youth-related crime and create a better relationship between the two parties. She said they had also given residents the petitions to sign, and they had shown their unwavering support.
“People who live in Nyanga are living in fear,” she said. “We will keep reminding the government about the pleas of Nyanga people until they build the police station.
“We know that Nyanga police station has made it clear that they are under-staffed hence they are battling to effectively curb crime. They need the support of the community in their endeavours.”
Grade 9 pupil Themba Thomspon, 13, applauded the initiative, saying that their community needed more police visibility. He said they were often robbed by criminals on their way to school. He added that often criminals would wait for them outside the school gate. “Some of the pupils here belong to gang groups.
“When the school hosts functions, they sometimes clash. We don’t feel safe and I would love to see police officers patrol around the school premises regularly,” he said.
Crossroads Youth Development Forum treasurer, Nangomso Treasury, said the forum hopes to create a strong relationship between the youth and the police, and find better ways to tackle youth-related issues. As was the case with other township communities, the 20-year-old said, her community was battling with teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and gangsterism.
Ms Treasury appealed to other police stations to consider establishing youth forums.
She described the establishment of their organisation as a bold step towards discouraging youth from being lured into joining gangsters and taking part in other illegal activities.
“The forum was established in September this year and we are also aiming to work with community-based organisations.
“We are also encouraging other communities to establish such forums,” she said.