Pretoria - MMC for community safety and emergency services Karen Meyer has challenged Gauteng Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela to investigate the allegations that members of the SAPS are involved in the drug trade in Tshwane.
This includes claims that the SAPS on Monday refused to permit the City’s emergency services personnel access to a drug-related crime scene where the crowd was hostile.
She claimed to have received reports as well as footage that implicated police in drug dealing. “Despite repeated commitments and discussions in good faith held between the Tshwane Metro Police Department and SAPS, joint drug-busting operations have still not taken place, and it is no wonder that the community view law enforcement as part of the problem,” she sadi.
Meyer said the SAPS “urgently needs to come to the party to assuage the fears of communities living with the daily scourge of drugs."
In addition they must "address the perceptions that law enforcement is involved, or run the risk of this being held true due to silence and inaction”.
On Monday two suspected drug dealers were beaten and kicked by an angry mob and taxi drivers. The building from which they allegedly sold drugs was also set alight and police closed Bloed Street to traffic.
Firefighters called in to extinguish the fire were chased away by the angry crowd and prevented from doing their work.
Tshwane Emergency Services spokesperson Charles Mabaso said: “When our firefighting vehicle initially responded to the fire we were advised by the police that the crowd was hostile.”
But, he said the vehicle was subsequently escorted to the area by the police once the angry mob had calmed down.
Regarding the extent of the damage, he said: “So far we have not quantified the damage. We first need to establish the identity of the owner, who will be able to tell us what was inside the building.”
According to business people nearby, the drama started after one of the suspects tried to sell drugs to a woman. The drugs were stuffed inside a wig, which was handed to her.
Witnesses said the woman was surprised to discover the white powder wrapped in plastic inside the wig.
Wanting to establish if the powder was a drug, she showed it to a group of taxi drivers, who confirmed that it was.
Suddenly an angry mob attacked the seller - identified as a foreigner. The man was badly beaten with fists and kicked until he fell on the ground.
He was then ordered to identify the person who sent him to sell drugs near the taxi rank.
The alleged dealer who was inside a block of flats tried to beat an exit. However, he was cornered and beaten up. Police came to the aid of the two and arrested them.
The tense situation prevailed all throught Monday afternoon and the police asked bystanders to leave the scene.
The hostile crowd prevented a Pretoria News photographer from taking pictures and intimidated bystanders trying to take pictures with their cellphones.
Police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele said the suspects were arrested following a tip-off that they were in possession drugs. “The two were spotted and we were able to corner them,” he said.
He said taxi drivers who were nearby, grabbed them, assaulted them and later set the building alight.
Makhubele said the suspects were rescued from the crowd and taken to hospital. He said their nationalities were still to be established once they had been interviewed by police.
They were due to appear in court charged with being in possession of drugs, he said.
Meyer said the incident illustrated the urgent need for the SAPS to join the City’s fight against drugs.
“While we condemn any form of vigilante justice, the SAPS, as a law enforcement agency, must play its part and not be a part of the problem.”