Marchers want greater police presence

The immediate construction of a police station and increased police presence in Booysen Park and Chatty were among the demands of residents who marched to the Port Elizabeth City Hall yesterday.

More than 100 residents marched from the Post Office in Govan Mbeki Avenue to the City Hall demanding that the number of police officers in the area be increased.

They claimed members of the SA Police Service at the Bethelsdorp police station were working with criminals.

They suggested new officers be brought into the area.

Booysen Park community leader, Mantombi John, 37, said the march was a result of many incidents, including a shooting two weeks ago where a young man was caught in gang violence crossfire.

“We are being terrorised by gangsters who live in our midst. Our children are not safe, even when they are at school, because gangsters also go into schools,” John said.

She said it was unacceptable that school hours sometimes had to be cut short because there was a shooting incident.

“We do not feel safe when we are in our homes, when we are in a taxi or when we are on the streets,” John said.

She said a temporary structure for the Chatty area would be welcomed, as there was no police station in the area.

Human settlements portfolio head Nqaba Bhanga said plans to build a police station in the area were under way.

“The council has already approved the lease of land in Chatty for a police station,” he said.

“We have put in a condition that this land should be used within the space of two years to make sure that the crime is reduced in that area.

“We hope the SAPS will implement this with the speed it deserves.”

The marchers, some wearing ANC and Sanco T-shirts, carried placards which read “We are tired of police who are working with criminals”.

One resident, Veronica Davis, of Marikana in Chatty, said crime continued to be a big problem.

“There is no freedom in that area. We are robbed of our belongings daily, our children are being killed and people turn a blind eye because they are scared for their lives,” she said.

“We came here because we are desperate.”

Police spokesman Warrant Officer Alwin Labans admitted that Bethelsdorp was understaffed.

“Many members were transferred to other units and not replaced,” he said.

“It is understandable that a normal response or comments from the public will be that the police is either corrupt or working with the gangs.

“[However] we have already rooted out bad apples among the police and are still doing it.”

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