By Rebone Motlhokwane
Residents of Mohlakeng in Randfontein, west of Johannesburg, are concerned that the closure of their local police station is leading to increased incidences of crime in their area. The community is demanding that their police station be reopened.
Residents told fray.news that since their police station closed three months ago due to shortage of staff, things have taken a turn for the worst. The Mohlakeng police station served Mohlakeng residents, Zenzele, an informal settlement next to Mohlakeng and Ext11.
Simon Masilo, a resident of Mohlakeng, said that people are being killed, taverns are getting robbed and people are being mugged at night. He said residents are unable to walk freely in their community, as they fear for their lives.
Matshidiso Phetoe Miyambo, said her nephew, Mojalefa Kgasoane, was shot and killed on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. She said Mojalefa was walking home after his meet-up with a friend and was held at gun point just a few kilometres from his home. A group of gangsters accosted him and demanded his cell phone. They shot him when he refused to hand over his phone.
“Nobody knows or has seen anything, Mojalefa was the second person to be shot and killed on that day,” said Miyambo.
Residents said that when they report matters to the main police station in town, they do not get help. They decided to have some community members act as a neighbourhood patrol, but this too is not going well.
Mmapule Noge, a community volunteer, said she was stabbed while patrolling at night. “I was stabbed in the back and on top of my head, because we as patrollers usually stop and search people,” said Noge
Noge said they were initially trying to stop a party of under-age teenagers drinking. Patrollers had informed the police first, but they never responded to the call for help. “This is not the first time patrollers got attacked, it is said that we as patrollers are disturbing them, so they want to sort us out,” said Noge.
Masilo said that residents go to open cases at the Randfontein Police Station, but nobody follows up. “Cases of people in Mohlakeng just dissolve in the air, we don’t know where they end up,” he said.
Residents say they have notified the station commander countless times, but his responses are not fruitful.
On June 14, 2022 residents attended a meeting with the provincial Portfolio Committee on Community Safety Committee to give their demands, including re-opening of the Mohlakeng Police Station, and the protection of street patrollers. They have given the Portfolio Committee seven days to respond.
District operational commander for the West Rand District, Cornell Booysen said “As soon as we see the memorandum, we will sit down as the management team, and then we will give feedback.”