Image: Brandon van der mescht

People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) has slammed the police for “interrupting” a “peaceful” door-to-door campaign against gangsterism in Manenberg.

Pagad spokesman Rashaad Challen said on Monday they were “disturbed and disappointed” by police reaction to the “walkabout” campaign of about 40 members of the Cape Town-based vigilante movement on Sunday.

The Pagad faithful were calling on residents to stand together against various social threats, including gang violence - and distributing pamphlets from door to door as they went.

“We received a warm welcome from the community,” said Challen. “It was obvious that the people needed assistance and were relieved that we were there to give them support.”

Then a large police presence arrived in armoured vehicles, demanding that the Pagad contingent disperse as they did not have official permission to march, Challen said.

“When the police arrived, everything changed, the mood become tense. Given our history with the police, we can never fully trust them as we don’t really know what their intentions are,” he added.

Challen insists Pagad was not marching or carrying placards. Therefore, he argued, it did not need permission from the police or the city.

“This attitude on the part of the police serves to protect the drug dealers and stifles any attempt by communities to unite and defend their children,” said Challen.

SAPS spokesman Andre Traut said the police presence was in the course of a day-to-day police patrol. “There is no record of a callout in that area.”

A member of Pagad who did not wish to be named said there were about 10 SAPS vehicles, including a Nyala. The police told them they had 10 minutes to disperse or “they were going to take further action. Although they didn’t use force or touch us, they had a very negative attitude. One would swear it was a riot situation they were responding to”.

“It’s strange that in most cases when the community needs the police, their response is either delayed or they don’t show up at all, but they were able to come in numbers on Sunday.” - Cape Argus

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