Protect community within the law, Cele urges Pimville residents

While communities’ rights to protect themselves from criminality is enshrined in the Constitution, this must be done within a legal framework.

This was on Thursday reiterated by Police Minister General Bheki Cele during a Ministerial Street Imbizo in Pimville, in Soweto.

The Minister had returned to the Kliptown policing area to further engage community members on identified crimes and policing concerns. He was accompanied by the national and provincial management of the South African Police Service, City of Johannesburg council leadership and Gauteng Community Safety and Liaison MEC Faith Mazibuko.

Cele last week visited the area following a cable theft-related shooting incident that claimed the life of Pimville resident, Kgomotso Diale. Five others sustained injuries. Two people have since been arrested and charged for the murder and attempted murders.

During the engagement earlier today, community members raised a raft of crime-related concerns.

Responding to the complaints raised, the Minister said: “At no stage will we say communities can’t rise and defend themselves. At no stage will we say communities can’t come together and work for their safety and comfort.”

However, he said communities must do so within the boundaries of the law. Should residents fail to uphold the law, police officers would be obliged to enforce it.

“Communities are protected by the Constitution, they can mobilise and defend themselves. That doesn’t come from me, it’s in the Constitution. However, it is specific – you do that in an orderly manner, you march unarmed.

“Secondly, when you mobilise for the safety and security of your community, you do so by not interfering with the activities of others. When I leave here, I request that you do that – work within the boundaries of the law.”

The Minister implored police officers to decisively act against law breakers.

Cele pointed out that while there may not be enough resources deployed to the police station, they needed to consider that limited officers had to be spread among 1 153 stations across the country.

The Kliptown police precinct has five churches and 124 shebeens, 26 schools, 18 bottle stores.

On calls for police to rid the areas of “criminal foreigners”, the Minister said police had an obligation to protect all lives from criminals.

“My job is to protect lives from those who threaten lives. Let’s work together in keeping safe the lives of South Africans and those inhabitants that are illegal be legal so that they are protected by the law, whether criminals are South African or foreigners,” he said.

Gauteng Police Commissioner Elias Mwela said an operation on Thursday morning lead police to recover tons of copper cables in Devland, near Soweto.

“Without your assistance in today’s operation we would not have recovered 838 mandrax tablets. We recovered two firearms and R10 000 from a person that tried to bribe police in today’s operation. We have also arrested three people for possession of cable. We have arrested 53 undocumented persons. That on its own tells us one thing: working together we can always achieve more,” he said.