Johannesburg - Raging protests in Westbury, west of Joburg, have forced police to take action against three of their own for allegedly being corrupt.
Angry residents maintain that police have failed to stem the drug-dealing problem in the community because some of them took money from dealers.
Westbury was locked down on Monday, with residents protesting against what they termed failure by police to arrest known drug dealers. Many suffered injuries from rubber bullets as police opened fire on those they deemed to be violent. Police arrested four residents for alleged public violence.
The protest was sparked by the fatal shooting of 46-year-old Heather Peterson, a mother of six, last Thursday. Peterson was caught in crossfire believed to have involved alleged drug dealers. Her 10-year-old daughter was wounded.
Addressing protesters outside the Sophiatown Police Station, Gauteng provincial police commissioner Deliwe de Lange said three officers were being investigated.
“I’ve been saying to the (community) leadership, identify those police you think are corrupt. Three names were given to us and I took a stand,” said De Lange. “These members are no longer reporting here (at the station). As I will be doing my own internal investigation, I removed them with immediate effect.
“I cannot allow corrupt officers to cause problems for me and the community,” De Lange said.
But the anger persisted after De Lange left.
“This is not New Jack City,” said resident Roberto Jones, referring to the 1990s popular American gangster film. “Everybody knows that there are two big heads involved in this thing. Everybody knows who they are. But the police are not arresting them,” said Jones.
Jones, 37, was upset because his aunt and daughter were arrested yesterday.
“They are being locked up with the people we’re trying to get arrested. The gangsters are killing our parents, the police are locking up our parents.”
James Cohen, another resident, said: “The police know the thugs who are dealing in drugs. On Friday the MEC (for Community Safety, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane) said they know there are three guys. So, go and arrest those guys. They should go to each and every drug corner and close it down.
“This is not about gangsterism. There are no gangsters. All the gangsters are dead and buried. Some of them have changed and are now pastors. This is about nothing else but drugs,” said Cohen.
Caswell Snyders said: “When you’re outside your house, you have access to drugs. It’s not only two people (peddling drugs).”