A cry for help from a crime-ravaged community sounded out when residents of Flora Park, Fauna Park and Serala View congregated on Tuesday evening for a meeting with law enforcers and authorities that saw them united by their fear of thuggery that is seen to be on the rise in the area.
Even before the delayed start to the event, held at Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa’s (Urcsa) facility on the perimeter of Serala View, conversations were abuzz with references to residents being plagued by incidents of crime, some reportedly occurring in full public view within the greater area. The expression of concerns alternated between English and Sepedi and residents mentioned youngsters terrorising the community, burglaries, drug deals and other common sights threatening peace in the neighbourhood where the horrific attack on Thorisho Themane allegedly took place in February this year.
Prior to the meeting commencing community leader and African National Congress (ANC) Cuito Cuanavale Branch Chairperson Lawrence Mapoulo, who was tasked with introducing Transport and Community Safety MEC Dickson Masemola as guest speaker, informed Polokwane Observer that crime in the area was currently high. He, too, fell victim to two burglars gaining access to his vacant property used for storage purposes in the area in the early hours of a Monday morning a month ago, Mapoulo said. He pointed out that they were suspected of breaking into two more houses four kilometres away in the preceding four hours before the burglary.
At the time of going to print he confirmed that residents were living in fear of their safety, predominantly due to housebreaking, deals involving hard core drugs, muggings, being terrorised by youthful attackers and to a lesser degree hijackings. According to Mapoulo an increase in incidents had been experienced since the young Themane’s death.
He highlighted an issue raised by a resident during the previous evening’s meeting regarding parents being guilty of not knowing what activities their children were engaged in. Mapoulo further stressed that parents were faced by the problem of not playing part to building strong, humble and respecting family units, adding that people had to teach their kids to fear God.
In conclusion Mapoulo referred to a meeting for parents to be scheduled once street committees, presently being formed in the area, were established. Within the next month each street in the neighbourhood had to have a coordinator, he said as he emphasised that they had to move with speed, specifically with the festive season approaching. Mapoulo predicted that other wards in the city would follow suit and said it was regarded as a plan that would work for the entire community.
Besides the address by Masemola, the programme for the community and stakeholders meeting further featured a message by Polokwane Police Station Commissioner Gift Makhubele. In his speech Makhubele called on the community to join hands with the Police in the city to fight crime together. Earlier on he urged members of the community to be the eyes of the Police and work with the authorities. Police in the city aimed to respond to all complaints within 18 minutes but it sometimes took slightly longer due to constraints with resources, Makhubele explained. He invited members of the public to direct complaints and suggestions to his office. “We are obliged to provide feedback about all complaints,” Makhubele added.
From stage Masemola listened attentively to the input of community members and in response urged them to become involved in structures that would unite and organise crime prevention and public safety in their communities. “We must say enough is enough and join Community Policing Forums to enable communities to work together with the Police to combat our common enemy,” Masemola said, but emphasised that all actions should be within the constraints of the law.