People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) claims the police are intimidating the community when they choose to speak out against crime or have any involvement with the anti-drug group. The organisation held a picket in Parow over the weekend, after calls by community members for intervention in the area. But Pagad spokesperson Haroon Orrie reported there have been incidents where members of the community were warned and threatened not to participate in the activities involving or support Pagad.
“Police and Crime Intelligence are intimidating people who want to work on the crime issue and we find there are a large number of policemen who work with gangsters in criminal activities. They did not want people to be part of Pagad. They threatened to arrest people,” claimed Orrie.
Pagad and members of the community held a picket outside an alleged drug den in Parow at around 20:00 on Saturday evening. The group gained permission to picket outside the Victoria Flats and Pepper Street, an area said to be a hotspot for gangs and prostitution.
The people of the community had raised grave concerns regarding the increase of brothels around the area that they feel are causing an influx of prostitutes and gangs sprawling with a flood of drugs and crime.
“The people in the community feel that nothing is being done about the increase in crime and brothels in the community. They feel that nothing is being done and that they have had enough. They now want to make a change with or without the police,” says Orrie.
But he says people were discouraged from joining the demonstrations against crime.
“The police threatened to arrest people even if they participated in a legal protest,” charged Orrie, adding that the police claimed to be “keeping a low profile” while monitoring the demonstration.
But according to Parow police spokesperson Lieutenant Kevin J Williams, they had not overstepped the boundary and had merely monitored the protest.
“There is just a normal police procedure that the police will monitor to see that there is no violence between opposing groups,” says Williams.
But Orrie says that too often, the police are involved in soliciting criminal acts intimidating the community when they speak out against crime. He alleged that corrupt police were the main stumbling block to eradicating communities from crime and drugs.
Williams disputed this, saying the police were dedicated to ridding the area of crime.
“The police are personally working very hard to rid the community of drugs, drug pedalling and crime. Therefore we work with all groups and anyone who works within the ambit of the law to stop crime,” says Williams.
Orrie says the police do little to address the crime as their children are being held hostage to drug dealers and gangsterism in the area. In desperation and despair, residents appeal to Pagad for assistance.
“We have been requested to come to various communities who get little assistance of the police. We even get calls from mothers whose children are being held hostage by drugs and gangsterism. They feel if they do go to the police they get brushed off. So they feel they can depend on Pagad,” relates Orrie.
He added: “If people appeal to police they are brushed off and they feel they can depend on Pagad as a movement to address crime and gangsterism.” VOC (Nailah Cornelissen)