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TOP COP and Umkhonto we Sizwe veteran Major-General Jeremy Vearey, pictured, broke up a meeting in Hanover Park where gangsters had gathered to broker a truce.
Vearey, the cluster commander in the area, arrested several people who attended.
The Hanover Park Community Police Forum (CPF) had arranged to have a public meeting in Freedom Square near the taxi rank yesterday.
It had planned to have gangsters address the community and ask for forgiveness for the recent violent clashes between gangs in the neighbourhood. Several people have been killed and many innocent people injured in the crossfire.
CPF leaders said they had aimed to restore peace in the community and had arranged a truce between the gang members on Friday.
But before the meeting started, Vearey and a contingent of police officers arrived.
Vearey confronted CPF leaders, warning that they were in a public space and, according to law, he was responsible for their safety.
He said that if they had held the meeting in a church or private venue, they were entitled to do as they wished.
He added that, as police, they could not stand by when people openly declared themselves to be gangsters.
“I’m going to tell you what is going to happen here, there will be no meeting.” Vearey turned to his officers and said: “The rest of you will act if you see a gangster here.”
He told the media: “I understand that there was an arrangement for a meeting, but I don’t talk to gangsters.”
Provincial police communications head Brigadier Novela Potelwa confirmed that 10 people had been arrested and later released.
CPF chairman Anthony Daniels told Vearey they would heed protocol and asked to meet police to discuss a way forward.
Daniels encouraged the crowd not lose momentum. “It takes the people on the ground to set the agenda… we know what it is we need.”