Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has promised residents of Mogale City in Gauteng to come back in a week with a plan to tackle drug dealing in the area.
Addressing thousands of residents in Kagiso on Tuesday the minister said if the police were not doing their job “then we must fix that”. The area was shut down on Monday as residents protested against what they claim are drug dens run by Nigerians. Homes and businesses identified as drug dens by residents were set alight and running battles between police and protesters continued throughout the day on Monday.
“We have come here today to ensure that the rule of law prevails in this country,” said Mbalula, who was accompanied by new national police commissioner General Khehla Sithole and Mogale City Mayor Patrick Lipudi.
Residents have accused the police of corruption and taking bribes from the drug dealers. Mbalula said their concerns were legitimate. “There must be change here in Kagiso and the surrounding areas. It is me who must fix the police. If the police are corrupt here then I have to get rid of these corrupt elements,” Mbalula said, to loud cheers from the crowd.
Twenty-five-year-old Kagiso resident Mothusi Hlekwana told the minister that police did raid the drug dens but found nothing because the drug dealers are being tipped off by the very same police. “Every day people go to the police and cry about this problem. They point out the homes that are being used as drug dens and brothels but the police don’t come back to us with positive feedback. So that protest that everyone saw on the news is a result of the frustrations felt by our people,” said Hlekwana. He said he hoped the minister would act swiftly and asked: “Our march against drug dealers was called illegal but people are selling drugs in our community, so who is illegal? Is it us or is it these people who are feeding our kids drugs?”
Julie Nortje had come to Kagiso from nearby Krugersdorp to address the minister. She broke down in tears as she described how her son was addicted to drugs and how he was constantly harassed by the local drug dealers. “I’m not speaking for myself only. I am speaking on behalf of all mothers, black and white. Please, minister, something must be done about this,” said Nortje. She handed over a petition signed by thousands of people from her community urging the police to tackle the drug issue.
Residents have denied that there is xenophobia linked to the recent protests. “If it was xenophobic then all the foreigners would have been attacked. We have Somalis and Bangladeshis here owning shops but people were not attacking them,” said one resident.
Mbalula urged the residents to remain calm while he worked with police management in the area to formulate a plan. He promised to return in a week with a solution.
We attempted to find Nigerian residents to talk to, but residents informed us they have left the area for now.
This article was originally published on Ground Up.
[Source: Ground Up]