As the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry probes mob killings and police inefficiency in that township, residents of the Cape Flats have called for an immediate investigation of alleged corruption at the Athlone and Manenberg police stations.
About 150 people gathered at the corner of Vanguard Drive and Klipfontein Road yesterday to protest against the alleged corruption, and to hand over a memorandum calling for an end to what they called “an infestation” among police ranks. The march was organised and led by senior figures from several local neighbourhood watches and regional Community Police Forums (CPFs), stretching from Manenberg to Athlone.
According to Kader Jacobs, spokesman for the Manenberg CPF, they had received several reports of police flat-out refusing to even register criminal cases. “I have confirmed actual cases where police officers have actively discouraged people from registering cases, saying ‘nothing would be done about it’. It’s disgraceful and horrifying that police, the protectors of the people, are paid off by gangsters to not only turn a blind eye to criminal activities, but are also abandoning the communities they are meant to serve,” he said.
The march, Jacobs pointed out, was not an attack on the police, but rather a call to purge corruption from their ranks.
“There are many good policemen out there, but their work is being undone by a minority of corrupt police. Too much damage has been done for the communities to have faith in the police,” he said.
Among his concerns were cases - where the evidence was apparently strong - being thrown out of court because of a “lack of evidence” from police, and gangsters and other hardened criminals being released on parole or bail with no warning to their victims, who were then left to be relentlessly terrorised, and of police arriving hours after shootings, or sometimes not at all.
“These are all problems that are rampant on the Cape Flats,” Jacobs said, adding that they would release their own report on police inefficiencies by the end of the month.
A memorandum was handed over to Athlone police station commander Colonel Krisjan Verwant, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato, and a representative from the office of Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe. The Athlone CPF, which residents charged had also failed to serve the community in certain areas, was also served with the memorandum.
It called for, among other things, work performance audits for all Athlone police station staff, the upgrading of the station, and improved resources for officers and neighbourhood watch members.
It also called for the denial of parole or bail for murderers, rapists and drug dealers.
Asked to comment, provincial police spokesman Frederick van Wyk and Justice Department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga both said they would study the memorandum before responding.
Hanief Loonat, one of the march’s organisers and former chairman of the Western Cape CPF, said the good work of the police was being tainted, not only by corruption, but also by a failure to act against it.
“When things aren’t going well they change the station commander to satisfy the community, but that doesn’t get rid of the corrupt officers. They are still there and continue to do whatever they please. We know who the corrupt officers are and have given a list to the top cops with the information, but they have never acted on it.”
Loonat was suspended as chairman for making allegations of corruption, specifically levelled at the Athlone police station, last year.
He was later reinstated to the CPF but lost his position when a new chairman was elected in his absence.
Loonat also testified at the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry three weeks ago.
The commission is investigating allegations of inefficiency at three Khayelitsha police stations.
Aisha Fester, from Kewtown, said during yesterday’s march that the community had given up on the police.
“The reason gangsters shoot every day is because no one stops them. I’ve even seen a police van just drive by a shooting without stopping. They didn’t even come back until the gangsters were gone.
“But now dozens of vehicles are here at the march. Where are they when we are being shot in the streets?”
- Sunday Argus