More than 200 demonstrators marched through Langa last week, in support of their community patrollers, and calling on police to improve their service delivery.
Branding local police as “useless”, enraged residents gathered at the local petrol filling station last Wednesday before heading to the police station to hand over a list of demands.
The residents were at loggerheads with police who they feel are not doing their job but are hellbent on stopping the local patrollers.
According to the march leaders, police have threatened to stop Langa Safety Patrollers from arresting alleged criminals, filming them and exposing them on social media.
Apostle Zongamele Baliso, who handed the list of demands to the police, lashed out at SAPS.
“Why criticise people who are working day and night,” he asked.
“Our patrollers never killed or assaulted anyone. They arrest people and give them to the sleeping police. That is why we have gained more confidence in the patrollers than the police. These patrollers are not going anywhere,” he said to roars of approval from the crowd.
“As people of Langa we are disappointed in our station commander who was supposed to be here. But we now can see that she does not take us seriously. But here we have lost confidence in the police. We have received tremendous help from the patrollers,” he said.
Community activist Alfred Magwaca who also took part in the protest, said rather than fighting police, residents wanted to work with them.
He also took a swipe at National Police Minister Bheki Cele who, he said, only visits the townships when he is campaigning.
“We are the residents of Langa and we are not going anywhere. We are not fighting with anyone but we need what is right for this community. We have been getting help from the patrollers. When houses are burgled and cars broken into, these patrollers will always work day and night to get the perpetrators. They are going nowhere,” he said.
The marchers patiently sang and danced in front of the police station until the memorandum was handed over to Captain Andriaan Kraukamp who was accompanied by Constable Raphaelle Damons. After it was read out and signed, Captain Kraukamp promised to hand it over to the relevant personnel.
Among the demands was that there be an overhaul of staff at the Langa police station and that there be a change of police conduct. They also want management to clamp down on officers who are drunk or sleep on duty, who abuse government vehicles, and protect criminals. The protesters also called on police to regularly share crime statistics with the community.