Cape Town - Frustrations boiled over during a community engagement session with Police Minister Bheki Cele and top brass where Gugulethu and Nyanga residents blamed the lack of police visibility and poor infrastructure for rising crime in their areas.
About 200 people, including neighbourhood watch and CPF members, attended the engagement at the Gugulethu, Ekhwezi community hall on Tuesday.
Some of the issues touched on included slow police response to reported crime, poor infrastructure, Gender-Based Violence (GBV), extortion, and lack of police visibility in the area.
When Civil rights organisation Action Society director of community safety, Ian Cameron, however accused Cele of failing the people of the townships and questioned him about the provincial government’s involvement in the talks, tensions escalated as Cele in response, said he would not allow the issue to be politicised.
Cameron, who stood up and shouted back at Cele, was physically escorted out of the hall as Cele told him to “shut up”.
“One has to try to stay away from politics when it comes to community issues,” Cele said afterwards.
“I could not have allowed someone to come and hijack this and confuse people to politics when there are serious matters.
“I and MEC Reagan Allen are beginning to have a good working relationship. He has attended almost all community meetings that I have called and we worked together.
“ Today's meeting was not of the minister but of (an) MP who happens to have his operation office in Nyanga so we invited the constituency rather than the province and the City,” said Cele. Cameron said he was considering laying a charge with Ipid.
“Action Society will not sit down and shut up while crime in South Africa is out of control. Cele is once again abusing the police force for political gain and holding authority over ordinary citizens.
“The Saps will never succeed in fighting crime if Cele stays in his position,” he said.
On the issue of visibility and resources, Cele said police will have to take their days off when it would not impact peak crime periods.
“Serious crimes start on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning. “Most of the police will have to be there and be on the streets and be available to respond to crime.
“The crime situation is not about policing and arresting people but also working with... environmental design.
“There is a good response when it comes to extortion and kidnappings in the country, recently we have arrested people on kidnappings and extortion and we would love to have more capacity, better response, and quicker response,” Cele said.
Gugulethu Sanco member Nombi Mdayi said as a community they have been living in fear for a long time.