Cele promises to rid Westbury of gangsters

Police Minister Bheki Cele promised change to the embattled Westbury community on Tuesday, but failed to heed residents’ calls to release protesters detained at the nearby Sophiatown police station.

Cele addressed scores of community members on the field of the Westbury Open Grounds.

In his address, the police minister said he would “clean the streets of gangsters” but conceded that one burning issue that he is unable to attend to is the release of protesters.

Cele’s speech was met with jeering from the increasingly frustrated crowd.

Cele promised that a patrolling unit would start their work on the streets of Westbury so the residents can “sleep better at night”.


Eight residents were arrested on Monday for public violence in the wake of the protest action that has swept the community. Their bail hearings have been set for Tuesday.

Cele said that if he made the promise to release the protesters, he would be “one lying, and two, breaking the law”. But, the police will not oppose their bail he said. Cele said he spoke to Justice Minister Michael Masutha about bail for those arrested.

According to Cele, national police commissioner Khehla Sitole would launch an investigation into the Sophiatown police station and report back to the community after a week.

“Police will investigate those that you say are corrupt, and we want to work with you for information” Cele said to much booing from the crowd.

The community began protesting on Friday after a woman was fatally shot in the crossfire between alleged gang members on Thursday. A 10-year-old was also injured in the melee and remains in hospital in a critical condition.

Two people have been arrested in connection with the shooting and two others are still at large. Cele was confident they would be in police custody within 48 hours.

Gauteng police commissioner Deliwe de Lange visited the community on Monday and promised that the police would stand down if the protesters stopped throwing stones at them and proceeded peacefully.

The meeting on Tuesday began with Gauteng MEC for community safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane calling on residents come to the makeshift stage to speak on the community’s behalf and voice their demands.

“Release our people,” the crowd chanted.

One resident, Regan Johnson, said today’s gathering should focus on addressing the scourge of violence in Westbury which hits women and mothers the most.

“We have one thing to do here. We are not talking jobs and houses here. We are talking drugs, guns and gangs. We are seeking a sustainable solution and I’m speaking not as a community leader but as a mother,” Johnson said.

Another resident said she also wanted to speak on behalf of mothers.

“I stand here as a mother of Westbury and of South Africa. Enough is enough. We can’t go to funerals every weekend. Let’s stand together as one. Mme o tshwara thipa ka bogaleng (a mother holds a knife on the sharp end).

Denzel Jones, a community representative, said that at the core of the community’s issues are racial tensions.

“In the previous dispensation, we were not white enough. Now, we are not black enough. But let me tell you, we are tough enough. 2019 is coming — we are going to vote with our minds. Not our hearts and stomachs.

“We are not ruthless but do not test us to the limit,” he said. 

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

Related stories

Meyiwa murder case postponed amid drama in court

The murder case of Senzo Meyiwa has been postponed to next month after the appearance of the five suspects in the Boksburg magistrate’s court took an unexpected turn

Five suspects arrested in Senzo Meyiwa case

Police minister Bheki Cele announced on Monday that his team has arrested five suspects who were allegedly involved in the killing of former Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa.

‘We want to occupy the land,’ says EFF’s Malema at Senekal farm murder protest

The party and AfriForum staged protests outside the magistrate’s court during the bail application by two men accused of killing a farm manager in the eastern Free State

Editorial: Treat all people like white men

On Tuesday, Free State farmers set a police van on fire and stormed the Senekal magistrate’s court to get to the...

With school suspended, Kenya’s children become students of gang culture

Schools in Kenya will reopen only in 2021. Meanwhile, children are getting their education on the streets, through becoming involved in petty crime

Police brutality in South Africa exposed once again

The death of teenager Nathaniel Julius means we urgently need to refuse to allow politicians and police leadership to protect violent officers
Advertising

Subscribers only

The shame of 40 000 missing education certificates

Graduates are being left in the lurch by a higher education department that is simply unable to deliver the crucial certificates proving their qualifications - in some cases dating back to 1992

The living nightmare of environmental activists who protest mine expansion

Last week Fikile Ntshangase was gunned down as activists fight mining company Tendele’s expansions. Community members tell the M&G about the ‘kill lists’ and the dread they live with every day

More top stories

Fifteen witnesses for vice-chancellor probe

Sefako Makgatho University vice-chancellor Professor Peter Mbati had interdicted parliament last month from continuing with the inquiry

Constitutional Court ruling on restructuring dispute is good for employers

A judgment from the apex court empowers employers to change their workers’ contracts — without consultation

Audi Q8: Perfectly cool

The Audi Q8 is designed to be the king in the elite SUV class. But is it a victim of its own success?

KZN officials cash in on ‘danger pay for Covid-19’

Leadership failures at Umdoni local municipality in KwaZulu-Natal have caused a ‘very unhappy’ ANC PEC to fire the mayor and chief whip
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday