COMMUNITY Safety MEC Dan Plato said yesterday that he would approach the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to probe Bishop Lavis police because, he said, they had done nothing while three spaza shops were torched and looted in neighbouring Valhalla Park.
The owners had apparently refused to pay protection money to gangsters, and police evacuated them when their shops came under attack.
Plato said that the Bishop Lavis Police Station was among “Project 23” stations prioritised to receive attention.
“Photo evidence shows what appears to be police standing and doing nothing. I will be asking the IPID to investigate. I want to see these officers charged with negligence. This demonstrates that this station needs urgent intervention,” he said.
But by deadline, Plato had not approached the directorate.
Plato said he would also be raising the matter at his next meeting with provincial police commissioner Arno Lamoer.
Three spaza shops in single-room wendy houses were set alight between 6am and 7am on Tuesday and looted.
No arrests were made.
Yesterday, the area remained tense as one of the shop owners, who gave his name as Abdi Salaam Sheikh Muhamed, a businessman from Somalia, briefly returned to a charred pile of wood and groceries that was once his shop.
“After we opened at 6.30am, guys started throwing petrol from a five-litre bottle in front of the two entrances. We (were) scared, so we kicked the back wall of the wendy house and ran out. We are just happy that we got out alive, but one of the shop owners is still in a coma in Tygerberg Hospital,” he said.
Muhamed lived in the small wendy house shop with his business partner and three relatives. All were inside at the time of the fire.
“Guys came to us on Tuesday night and said if we pay them R800 they will leave us alone, but I already pay rent here so I told them no. We don’t know what to do anymore because all our stock and clothes are burnt. I came in 2005 and the same thing happened to me, but now the gangsters here will kill you,” he said.
“We lost stock worth almost R10 000, all our clothes and (permits) to work here. I don’t think I want to stay here anymore,” he said.
Resident Marco Cloete alleged that police had merely watched as people stole money and groceries from the spaza shops.
“After a while, the police helped the Somalis to leave Valhalla because people were becoming violent. Now, our children will have to walk across the field… and they could get robbed,” he said.
Police spokesman Andre Traut said they would comment on the issue once they had investigated.