Security Crisis Grips Ward 98 in Harare (Khayelitsha)

Security Crisis Grips Ward 98 in Harare (Khayelitsha)

Ward 98 is experiencing a rather unusual stand-off between the recently elected African National Congress Councillor, Mr. Gabuza and the Neighbourhood Watch patrollers, made up of unemployed volunteers. For a period well in excess of 5 years, this group of volunteers, now operating from an office in Harare Square, Khayelitsha, has worked alongside SAPS, the Community Policing Forum (CPF) and the community structure South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO), to provide security and peace of mind to the local residents and business community. Though having started purely voluntarily, in response to the ever rising crime in the ward, they ultimately got support from the Violence Prevention for Urban Upgrading Unit (VPUU).

Mr. J Ngesi, the Neighbourhood Watch secretary stated that “we are a group of volunteers who have been providing security to the community. Over the past two weeks we have been failing to provide any services as our offices have been closed by the Ward Councillor and his youths who instructed the VPUU to close us down. Since the first day of closure, we have witnessed crime increasing again, literally on a daily basis. We do not understand how the councillor can do this, we now do not know if, maybe, himself and his group of youths are benefitting from the prevailing chaos and the crime that has increased since they stopped us. All our successes are being compromised and the community is living in fear again.”

In an effort to get clarity and direction as to what is really happening, the patrollers have written a letter to the Democratic Alliance MEC for Security, Mr. Dan Pancho, requesting for his intervention. It is now a full week and they are still waiting for a response, whilst the community gets plunged into more crime and lack of safety. Totally perplexed about the role of the local government officials, Mr. Ngesi further said “we want the laws of South Africa to support and protect us. We were not expecting the Councillor to behave in such a fashion, instead of him and his youths stopping us from providing security services we expected his support, as he had previously promised us. Amazingly, even the CPF Chairperson seems to be implicated and part of this whole mess.”

On Monday 12 September 2016, VPUU has called an unprecedented meeting, away from the police station and which meeting is supposed to sit in the absence of SAPS officials. The Neighbourhood Watch has indicated a serious reluctance to participate in any such meeting, without the presence of the police and other relevant structures that have been part of this security exercise, more so that they are being invited to attend with some of the people being unknown to them and some who already have allegations of fraud and corruption facing them. “For as long as VPUU insists on blocking the police from participating in an exercise that is crime related and is beneficial to the community, the Neighbourhood Watch patrollers will not be part of the envisaged meeting”, said Mr. Ngesi.

For an interview and more details on the current stand-off, please contact the following:

Mr. J Ngesi – 076 144 6724
Mr. V Kutu – 073 123 3982
Ms. F Sobethwa – 073 781 1137
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