Officers are allegedly targeting everyone in their path as gang violence among teenagers rises in Khayelitsha. Victoria John reports.
'Just hang on, residents are attacking a man in front of my eyes. Can you phone back in a few minutes?" a Social Justice Coalition member, requesting anonymity, told the Mail & Guardian.
He was standing outside the coalition's office in Green Point, one of the suburbs of the sprawling Khayelitsha township, on Wednesday morning.
A few minutes later he explained that a resident accused of stealing money had been beaten with bricks by four men and hit with one of their cars. He said that the
police, whom he had called, arrived, did not make any arrests and left.
There has been a surge in mob justice in the township, with at least 18 vigilante mob killings in the past 10 months.
The coalition has also been vocal about another problem plaguing the township – the rise in teen gang violence – the reason for the M&G's call. The problem appears to have taken a grave turn recently.
The coalition member said the police were now attacking gang members and innocent bystanders.
On Tuesday at 8.30pm he was watching television in his home in Green Point when he heard three gunshots.
"I went outside and saw some teenagers running down the road … then I heard another three shots."
He followed a police vehicle down the road to an open field across which about 10 teenagers were fleeing.
"Two policemen got out of the van, grabbed one of the boys and started beating him with water pipes right in front of me," he said. "I couldn't stop the policemen because I feared for my safety … I tried to take photos but it was too dark."
Likhona Njamela, a coalition volunteer, said she and a group of Green Point residents on Friday night watched the police beat gang members with pipes when they would not leave the area.
"They wanted to beat everyone who was on the scene. We told them 'no, guys, you can't do this'," she said.
She said she told the policemen: "I know the law. You can't beat these kids. All you must do is put them in the van.
"They told me I always talk too much and said they will shoot tear gas at me."