Pretoria – Crime was the straw that broke the camel’s back for residents of Olievenhoutbosch, who yesterday took to the streets accusing police of colluding with foreign nationals involved in criminal activities.
The residents said they had to force police to arrest a foreign national who faked documents for a child to be admitted to Philena Primary School.
According to them, the Malawian was busted in his home last Tuesday with equipment to produce fake motorbike licence discs and school reports.
“What angered us is that we had to force the police to arrest him. The people in the area told us that the police regularly went to his house to collect money.
“We had to push to get someone from the Department of Community Safety to force the police to arrest him and open a case. However, after a few days, the man was back in the streets.
“When we went to his home, we found that all his equipment had been given back to him. Our sources at the police station whispered to us that he paid a bribe to get his stuff back.
“This is evidence. for God’s sake. We went and took it back. We are keeping it safe for the Minister of Police Bheki Cele. We don’t trust these police here; they are rotten to the core,” a community leader said. The resident said they were forced to take action after learning that the accused allegedly threatened teachers at the school who had recognised the fake documents he produced. “This person said the teachers must stop rejecting children of foreign nationals, or he’ll burn the school down. That’s why we’re angry. This is to protect our teachers, children and school infrastructure.
“We cannot and will not sit back and listen to foreign nationals tell us what to do in our country. We as South Africans cannot go to their countries and do or say whatever we want.
“We are fighting to protect what is ours, but these police are failing us. We want Minister Cele to come here, just as he visited Diepsloot residents when they were unhappy about a similar matter last week.”
Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela went to the police station in the area to address and engage with the community leaders. The meeting took place while residents continued burning tyres on the streets.
The unrest started on Wednesday when residents burnt tyres near the police station to express their frustration. Schooling was disrupted by residents who were determined life could not continue as normal until their grievances were addressed.
Early yesterday morning, the residents set tyres alight on various streets in the area. However, police reacted swiftly in an attempt to keep the crowd away from the main R55 road.
The men in blue were forced to fire rubber bullets after some of the residents threw stones at their vehicles.
Businesses owned by foreign nationals were torched just outside the Olievenhoutbosch Primary School, as learners stood by the fence watching the billows of smoke.
SAPS national spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said after Mawela engaged community representatives, it was established that they had a lot of concerns with regards to crime, as well as alleged corruption within the local police.
“They raised the case of a woman who was killed by her boyfriend and a man involved in fraud. The provincial commissioner reminded them that community safety was not just a responsibility of the police.
“He said it was hard for the police to monitor incidents such as that of a woman who was killed by her boyfriend; these things happen in private spaces, and to deal with that, we’ll need to work together,” he said.
Regarding police corruption, Naidoo said the community made a lot of allegations, but Mawela requested that they provide specific cases and facts so that those matters could be investigated.
He said residents often forgot that suspects could be given bail in the courts. “When they’re back in the community, it does not necessarily mean the police just let them go,” Naidoo said.