Concerned Residents from Riverlea, Zone 1 held a meeting with Captain Mampa and Constable Godfrey Shikwambane from the Langlaagte Police Station.
The meeting was held in the last street of Zone 1 near the entrance of the tunnel going into Riverlea Extension. A number of issues were brought up from victims who got robbed by a group that is operating in the area.
Various areas were also highlighted as crime hotspots such as the veld and between the Riverlea High School and the Retirement Village. According to the organiser of the meeting, Bernard Afrika, the suspects use the tunnel in Zone 1 as an escape route.
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“There’s a group that is robbing our mothers, sisters, wife’s, and it’s not even safe for our children to walk through here so we calling this meeting to address this issue as well as ask more men to join the Community Policing Forum (CPF),” said spokesperson Clayton Thomas.
According to Thomas, the hotspot for crime is just before the entrance of the tunnel, there are bushes that criminals hide in and when someone attempts to go through the tunnel, they get robbed.
“Yesterday my friend was robbed at gunpoint. He said that two people came out of the bushes and robbed him,” explained Thomas.
According to residents who attended the meeting, they are well aware of who the culprits are and are furious that they robbing their mothers and other loved ones.
The suspects carry weapons with them and its hard to defend one’s self if they had to attack. Mob justice was also discussed as a few residents were leaning towards that way, but Captain Mampa stopped them in their tracks.
He said that Mob Justice is a crime and that if residents do attack the suspects, they will then get arrested too. Mampa encouraged the residents to form more CPF’s that will act as an open channel between residents and the police.
Silvia Steady who is the coordinator of the CPF said that they noticed that the suspects are men who either wait in the tunnel or they come across into Zone 1 by crossing the railway lines.
“These men rob people. They are not robbing the people to put a plate of food on the table but rather to maintain their habits, why don’t they go work?” asked Steady.
According to residents, the suspects are up early in the morning waiting for people to rob. In the meeting, it was also added that there is a woman working with the men and she is the one who tips them off.
People complained about the suspects getting arrested and then walking right past them a day after getting arrested and threatening them.
Shikwambane explained that it’s the justice system. They only arrest the suspects, the court looks at the files and if there isn’t enough evidence, they let the suspects go.
He asked residents to bring enough evidence in so that they can arrest these suspects and let them serve time in prison. The ill-treatment which the residents receive from the police at the station was also discussed and the Captain promised residents that he will address the officers.
Shikwambane expressed his concern about the lack of vehicles that the station but announced that they will have more vehicle available in the near future.
The current CPF members of Zone 1 were introduced and residents who attended the meeting were highly appreciative of the issues that were raised and a way forward was discussed.
They discussed a way through joint efforts to fight crime and ask people to sign up for programmes such as CPF’s and Reserved police. Steady mentioned that they asked Councillor Basil Douglas to assist with the cutting down of the trees and bushes near the tunnel too.