Villagers flay MEC over crime

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

Mpumalanga MEC for safety and security Siphosezwe Masango had a torrid time trying to convince the people of Moretele that the police in the area would deal harshly with criminals.

During an imbizo in Marapyane this week, hundreds of villagers expressed their dissatisfaction with crime in the area owing to a lack of visible policing.

Masango promised a new police station would be built in the area.

Moretele is in the Dr JS Moroka municipality and consists of seven villages with a population of about 45000 people.

The area has a satellite police station - at Mmametlhake.

The building of the police station follows numerous calls from the community for increased, visible policing "because crime is rife in the area".

People in the area have complained about escalating crime, ranging from stock theft, house breaking and robbery on business premises to rape.

Masango's visit attracted thousands of villagers to the satellite police station at Marapyane.

The community complained that the only police station in the area was failing to service all the villages adequately.

The community told Masango that there was always a shortage of vehicles or there were too few policemen in the area.

Masango promised that his department would build a police station at Nokaneng village, which is the most central.

He said he understood their frustrations but urged them "to do self-policing by working with the available police".

Resident Johnny Maepa told Masango that the community recently apprehended a cattle thief and called the local police, "but they did not turn up".

"The war on crime cannot be won by the building of facilities such as police stations alone, but by partnerships and the participation of local communities," Masango said.

Responding to livestock theft, Masango encouraged people to form "livestock owners and traders associations". This would help reduce stock theft, he said.

Villagers warned that they might be forced to take the law into their own hands.

Rex Machabi, acting provincial commissioner, acknowledged the need for a new police station and more policemen for the area. He promised that these would receive urgent attention.