By Tauhierah Salie
The Delft Community Police Forum has demanded action from their local police station, after a police constable was shot and killed and two others wounded in the area. In the early hours of Sunday morning, three officers were patrolling in Delft when they came under fire from a lone gunman. A 32-year-old officer received a fatal shot to the head, while one officer was wounded above his left eye, and the third in his arm.
A few minutes later, police who responded to the scene also came under fire by the suspect, but officers retaliated, and the suspect was wounded in the leg and arrested. The 24-year-old is currently under police guard while he’s receiving medical treatment.
Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, had labelled the shooting as an “attack on the state”, adding that “violence and criminality have no place in our society” and must be condemned in the strongest terms’.
“I commend the police for the rapid arrest of the suspect and for having intensified SAPS presence in the area following the shooting. I call on all residents to aid the police by reporting dangerous criminals and illegal firearms. Residents with any information can contact 08600 10111,” Minister Fritz said.
The brazen attack sparked outrage within the Delft and Blikkiesdorp communities, who had embarked on violent protest action on Friday.
By Sunday afternoon Delft CPF members had met with Delft SAPs representatives to discuss possible solutions to various issues facing the community. CPF Chairperson George Charles explained that residents’ main concern was the under-resourced police station and it’s management.
“We, as a CPF, got together (yesterday) after we were informed that one of the police officers was shot and killed and the other two wounded. We had to with sit around the table with the cluster commander and address the elephant in the room with regards to looking at maybe implementing or asking for a new sheriff to come to town – someone that can deal with he crime in Delft at the moment.”
Blue Downs cluster commander Major-General Vincent Beaton said that while crime and gangsterism in Delft is a concern, the socio-economic issues need urgent attention. Beaton pointed to the “environmental design” of Blikkiesdorp, which acts as a hide-out for criminals.
George highlighted the same problem, expressing the urgent need to tackle housing within an area that has a growing population.
“In our model proposal that we out forward, environment is key. If you look at Blikkiesdorp it’s just a human dumping site. As people would move from Blikkiesdorp into their homes, the original plan was then to demolish that shack so that we can get rid of Blikkiesdorp.”
“But what we find now, that as people are moving into the RDP homes, another family is moving into that shack. This is the problem.”
George explained that the failing infrastructure and lack of efficient leadership is contributing to the already dire situation.
“Our community is battling; our infrastructure is battling. You can go anywhere in Delft, you see the drains are just over flowing. Someone has to come up with new initiatives so we can address the issues in our communities which is causing a huge amount of trauma for our young people at the moment.”
“We were looking at replacing the station commander and we were given the assurance from the general that extra members will be deployed in Delft.”
Despite the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) being deployed to the Cape Flats, George said that this is just a temporary solution and will not address more persistent concerns such as unemployment and poverty.
“There is an army presence but remember the army isn’t stationed in these communities. They come in for a couple of minutes or hours and then leave to the next community,” said George.
George emphasised that one way of tackling crime, which is “out of control in Delft”, is to use modern technology.
“Every time the world is dealing with crime, SA keeps leaving our people behind. We need to keep up with regards to where the world is going.”
“The population has exploded (and) Delft has become a city overnight. There is too little resources available for SAPS in the community, but we also need to apply our minds as to how do we address crime in the 21st century.”
One such suggestion is to use drones to be the “eyes on the ground” which can help identify those in crisis situations and also crackdown on illicit activities.
“We need to fight crime with tactics applied for where we are. The paramedics are being summoned to townships only to be robbed, raped and killed. If there is an emergency, we want the drone to be the first respondent and the footage can be relayed to whoever needs to see what is happening out there. We can also look at the crime rate – if drones can be released in the community and address conditions in our community then we can deal with it but we need a different way of thinking. “
“The amount of jobs this initiative can create as well, is enormous. We don’t have the appetite from our politicians. We showed the police and they were over the moon but to implement these things we need a different mindset that will grasp these initiatives.”
At the end of the meeting, several resolutions were made to assist the Delft and Blikkiesdorp communities to increased police presence and protection for volunteers.
“The station in Delft is under resourced. There has been a commitment and there were extra forces in our community last night.”
“We also asked that our neighbourhood watch groups are protected as these people are volunteering until late night, early morning to keep other residents safe.”