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An open letter to Bheki Cele: Who are the saviours-in-blue turned hooligans accountable to?

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Joanie Fredericks is a community activist in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain

Certain members of the National Intervention Unit have become a law unto themselves. Minister Cele, please come to address this situation in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain, as a matter of great urgency. There can be no effective solution to crime where there is no trust.

I am an activist and community leader in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain.

I am writing this open letter on behalf of the community of Tafelsig to complain about the police brutality the community suffers at the hands of the so-called National Intervention Unit.

Minister Cele, it is not in my nature to complain without offering possible solutions, so I will outline the problems we currently experience with members of these so-called elite units in the hope we can find solutions together.

While we are very happy that you listened to our calls for added police protection and action against gangsterism and other violent crimes in our communities, it is with grave concern that we note that some members of the unit are themselves acting like hooligans against ordinary, law-abiding citizens.

This is particularly disturbing in a situation where the Mitchells Plain police station has for years had problems with regard to a much-needed permanent station commander, which will do much to help with effective policing.

Some of the members of your unit continue to show disrespect to community members in the form of racist verbal attacks, swearing at community members, physical assaults, pointing of firearms at unsuspecting community members, harassment of community members, refusal to wear name tags for identification purposes and so on. This state of affairs causes serious problems in community/police relations in the general day-to-day interaction with members of the Mitchells Plain police, who are blamed by for all of these acts against the community.

Minister Cele, the same elite unit which was hailed as the answer to some of our biggest crime problems in the communities has now become a threat to the very communities they are supposed to protect and serve.

Your urgent intervention is needed.

Specific complaints

Individuals, including myself who suffered at the hands of this unit are willing to give statements but we do not know who to give these statements to as members of these units appear to not be accountable to our local police leadership.

Recommendations

Minister Cele, without generalising, it is clear that certain members of this unit account to no one. It is necessary that you come to address this situation as a matter of great urgency so that the deteriorating relationships between the community and police in general can be restored. There can be no effecting solutions to crimes where there is no trust.

The community appreciates that these units have been placed in communities to protect and serve and we thank you for your efforts but it is counter-productive that ordinary community members fear and despise the police for their behaviour. DM

Joanie Fredericks is a community activist in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain

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