Rise to end violence

MEC for Community Safety Dan Plato approaches a crowd in Ocean View after three days of rioting. Picture: BRENTON GEACH

The MEC for Community Safety, Dan Plato, will soon meet with Ocean View community leaders to discuss the community’s complaints about the alleged lack of service delivery by local police, expressed during a three-day protest last week.

Outraged members of the community barricaded the entrance to Ocean View on Kommetjie Road on Thursday September 21 by burning tyres and road signs.

Calm was finally restored on Friday September 22 after a visit from Mr Plato and later the deputy provincial commissioner for policing, Major General Mpumelelo Manci.

Spokesperson for Mr Plato, Ewald Botha, said since the MEC’s visit on Friday he had been in regularly engaging with community leaders from Ocean View regarding a meeting with the community and the way forward.

On Wednesday September 20, Rastafari members of the community took to the streets in a peaceful march following the fatal shooting of a Rasta, Donald Allen, on Tuesday evening, September 19.

The purpose of the protest was to peacefully and actively communicate with the police, asking them to take action and control the high level of gang-related crimes residents have to face on a daily basis. Discussions took place between the Rastas, police and community representatives with the main complaint being a lack of police visibility and arrests, corrupt police officers and the police station being closed at night.

But before an agreement could be reached, an unrelated group started burning barricades in the road and stoning police officers and chaos erupted, resulting in the closure of Kommetjie Road at Slangkop and Atlantic Street and a stand-off between police and residents.

What followed was another two days (Thursday and Friday September 21 and 22) of protesting with police using rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the crowd. This caused severe traffic disruptions on Kommetjie Road forcing residents of Kommetjie, Scarborough and Misty Cliffs to detour via Redhill.

Three members of the community were arrested and charged with public violence. They were released on R300 bail and appeared in the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

In recent weeks the Ocean View community has been plagued by gangsterism claiming one innocent life after the other. Monday September 9 claimed the life of 9-year-old Aqueel Davids and September 11 claimed the life of Kiyaam Esau, 26 (“Casualties of war”, Echo, September14). The following week another two lives – that of Janico Lakay, 16 and Romano Brooks, 29 – were lost (“Another two murders in Ocean View”, Echo September 21).

Ocean View Community Police Forum chairperson, Kathy Cronje, said Ocean View residents feel they have been let down by the police as they have not seen any results after numerous discussions with local police and councillors earlier this year and demanded to speak to high-ranking police officials during the protests.

She said the community was satisfied with Mr Plato’s visit and she sincerely hoped that the promises made to the community would be honoured.

Speaking to the Echo from the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court where three members of the community appeared on charges of public violence, Paul Franke, a member of the neighbourhood watch and an Ocean view resident, said the community simply had enough of violence and crime and had to make their voices heard.

He said promises mean nothing without actions and something drastic had to be done. “People have blood on their hands and it must stop,” he said.

He said witnesses to crimes were too scared to identify criminals or speak out as they fear for their lives. “They know if they testify they will get murdered,” he said.

Mr Franke has lost 12 family members in recent years due to gang-related violence and said enough is enough.

Ocean View police spokesman, Sergeant Leon Fortuin, said the weekend had been without any incidents and there was a heavy police presence over the weekend.

He said except for a vehicle being stoned and an attempted petrol bombing at the police station on Friday September 22, there were no other physical damage caused by protesters.

He added that the Ocean View police will hold an imbizo with the provincial office and members of the community during the course of the next week to discuss the way forward.

He said the shooting of Mr Allen is being investigated and no arrests have been made yet.

Community appointed spokesman of the Ocean View stakeholders group, Patrick Joseph, said stakeholders addressed the Rasta community on Saturday and invited them to the group to work together in the future.

Mr Josephs said the stakeholders group is a group consisting of 22 Ocean View organisations and many community members who are working on an action plan for Ocean View.

He said the group will closely monitor the promises made by Mr Plato and Major General Manci and take it forward from there.