From the news desk

Mayco member JP Smith and local councillor Angus McKenzie ejected from meeting

Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith and local councillor Angus McKenzie were ejected from the meeting at the behest of the protesters on Wednesday.

Protesters claimed that Smith and McKenzie were trying to use the community’s social ills to their political advantage.

The meeting follows Tuesdays “Total Shutdown” protest, where residents from various communities on the Cape Flats took to the streets to highlight gangsterism, crime and the police’s inadequacy.

Residents claim Smith and McKenzie used the meeting to benefit their political agenda.

According to one of the organisers of the protest, Gatto Wanza, the reason for not wanting Smith and McKenzie to participate or sit in on the meeting was because they [the community] refuse politicians to use their meeting for their own political gain.

Wanza said children in the community were forced to join gangs and were turned into criminals.

“Sacrifices are being made daily to attend meetings to get our area in order. Things are happening behind the scenes that nobody else sees or even hears about,” he said.

During the meeting, an emotional crowd showed Cele a video of the protest in which eight people were arrested while the police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets.

Resident Nadia Mayman cried when the video was shown.

She said residents were called “low-lives and idiots” by officials during the protest.

“The police are failing our communities. When you report crime to the police, you’ll be lucky if they respond in less than an hour.” She added.

Total Shutdown leader Henrietta Abrahams demanded improved visible policing and asked that certain areas on the Cape Flats be declared disaster areas.

“When we say visible policing, they say there [are] no resources,” she said.

“What is happening here is similar to the fires in Knysna. We want the same amount of attention, resources and priority. We are not a priority because we are poor and working class.”

She said that police must patrol gang hotspots, such as schools and train terminals.

Abraham called on Cele to spend time in Bonteheuwel and use public transport without bodyguards, “to see how the community lives”.

“Every day we are robbed on our way to work; our children are being manhandled by gangsters on their way to school, because they want them to join gangs,” said Abrahams.

Her community depended on a satellite police station that closed before midnight.

Abrahams asked Cele to hold a summit for working-class people by the end of October.

Cele agreed to meeting with the people of Bonteheuwel on Tuesday, following an outcry among residents over the arrest of the eight protesters.

“I do not control comrades in the government; however, I will ask other ministers to be part of these meetings, especially (those in) the justice cluster,” said Cele.

He urged the community to work with him to resolve their difficulties.

“We are not going to impose anything on the communities; we will try to work together,” he said.

McKenzie said the meeting was supposed to have been “a stakeholders’ meeting”. He said he and Smith were invited to attend it by the minister’s office.

Smith said Cele had no solutions for policing failures in Cape Town.

“I am deeply worried that the genuine concerns of crime-ridden communities are hijacked by political interests, specifically in Bonteheuwel,” said Smith.

[Source VOC and News24]
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