Mbalula vows to smoke out peddlers

A burnt satellite police station in Krugersdorp on the West Rand.
A burnt satellite police station in Krugersdorp on the West Rand.

Angry Kagiso residents have appealed to Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to deploy the army in the township in a bid to rid it of drug peddling and human trafficking.

Hundreds of residents yesterday gathered at the Kagiso Community Hall where they met with Mbalula against the backdrop of a violent protest that swept across Mogale City on Monday.

Nthibane Mosalakae said they wanted Mbalula to deploy soldiers to bring an end to criminality in the township.

"We want Mbalula to make sure that our township is free of drugs. We want these Nigerians out of our communities because of the drugs they bring into our community," Mosalakae said.

Mbalula was accompanied to the area by national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khehla Sitole and Mogale City mayor Patrick Lipudi.

He said Operation Fiela would be integrated into Mogale City to clean up the rot that has developed.

"Operation Fiela was created to address all these issues. We cannot coexist with criminals and we cannot wait for any situation to get out of control. Where there are drug dens, police must clamp down on those places," Mbalula said.

He said criminality thrived because police officers were willing to be bribed.

"... that is why these things are thriving, we will bring an end to all of this," he said.

Some residents in Krugersdorp were yesterday counting the cost of Monday's protests. Thousands of community members had stormed the town in a bid to rid it of drug peddlers and human trafficking syndicates. Houses suspected of being brothels and drug dens were torched, while shops in the area were looted.

One of the victims of the mob rampage, Nigerian national John Ucho, who runs a liquor store in Krugersdorp, said the protest turned into a looting frenzy.

"If they wanted to get rid of drug dealers, they should have done so. But we are here to make a living," Ucho said.

Ucho's liquor store, along with several others, was looted and vandalised.

Resident Vusi Thwala said the police had failed the community despite numerous complaints over drug peddling and kidnappings being reported.

"We are happy that the state is starting to take us seriously. It's high time they listened to us," Thwala said.

Another resident, Titus Moremi, said it was regrettable that foreign-owned shops in Kagiso were also damaged during the protest. "It's just criminal elements that somehow managed to creep into the protest. People were fed up, but we can't justify that [looting]," he said.

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