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KwaZulu-Natal - KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni wants the public to help her remove guns from crime- and violence-plagued KwaMashu hostel.
The hostel, long reputed to be the hub of illegal guns, has been a hotbed of political instability, with frequent violent clashes between members of the IFP and its breakaway party the National Freedom Party.
Although the situation has been calm since events from a week ago, when shots were fired, people stoned, two cars damaged and a reporter’s car was torched, there are fears of a surge of violence on Wednesday, when results of a by-election will be released.
Speaking to the Sunday Tribune at the hostel on Saturday, Ngobeni said she was confident her troops were up to the task of maintaining law and order.
“We have deployed members of the Public Order Police, Tactical Response Unit and members of the task force on an ad hoc basis around the clock. We also have the involvement of the intelligence unit working to ensure there is calm in this area.”
There have been suggestions from some sections that the police should mount a raid on the hostel.
Ngobeni said while she supported this approach, the police could not do it alone.
“The challenges with the raids is that we don’t have sufficient intelligence. I have asked the people who have information on where the firearms are, to come forward.
“I’ve spoken almost everywhere, but people are not coming forward. Last month when we had an operation, we were told there were firearms somewhere in Lindelani, but nobody could tell us where they were.
“I’m still saying even today, if somebody was going to phone me and tell me where the firearms are, I can tell you even tonight or by tomorrow, we will go there. The trouble we have is in finding out the precise location of those firearms.”
Those who came up with information would enjoy protection and guaranteed anonymity, Ngobeni said.
“Our officers have been trained. They know how to protect information and the identities of informers and any witnesses.”
Ngobeni spoke of a four-point plan, which entails maintaining high visibility within the hostel, intensifying investigations that lead to prosecution, talking to political parties through the multi-party forum and working with the local government and housing departments.
“We’ve been engaging with them, but it’s a long-term process. It’s not something you can just fix in one day. But we want to encourage the community to work with all of us and give us information. Some of our breakthroughs have been sourced from intelligence from the community we are working with.”
Ngobeni also announced that only a “very limited” number of officers would be allowed to go on leave during the December festive season.
“We will be working even during the holidays. The message I want to give the people of this province is that we’ll ensure they have a festive season that is properly policed.
“And they can rest assured the police will be visible and available. I’m not trying to say there will not be mishaps, but enough police will be deployed,” said Ngobeni.