Nyanga residents say they are too scared to report crime

Police tell community to “play your part”

Photo of an audience

Nyanga residents listening to presentations by police officers on crime in the Nyanga precinct at the Zolani Centre in Nyanga. Photo: Barbara Maregele

By Barbara Maregele

15 February 2017

“I am scared to report crime…they will come back and kill me,” said a 73-year-old grandmother after attending a community dialogue on the high level of crime in Nyanga and surrounding areas.

“We are glad they are having these discussions. But most of us see the wrong things happening, but won’t say anything here, because we are scared. People in this meeting will go back home and tell the skollies we told on them,” said the grandmother. She asked not to be identified. She is quite frail and lives alone in a small shack in NY40, Gugulethu.

Nyanga has been dubbed the murder capital of South Africa. According to the 2016 crime statistics, at least 279 murder cases were recorded between March 2015 and April 2016.

“I use to walk with my daughter to the bus stop at 4am. On the way back, there were always these skelms robbing the people on their way to work,” she said.

She was one of more than a hundred residents that attended a community dialogue with Deputy Minister of Police Maggie Sotyu and other police officials.

Held at the Zolani Centre in Nyanga on Wednesday, it is the third of its kind to be hosted by Africa Unite. The organisation also runs similar initiatives in Hanover Park and Delft.

Many people attending the event raised concerns about lack of trust in the police, poor policing and perpetrators being released back into the community.

While a senior police officer from the Nyanga precinct highlighted some successes, residents in the audience said this wasn’t enough.

Lucas Balakh, a Congolese national, has been living in Nyanga for six months and works as a truck driver in the area. Four months ago, Balakh spent two weeks in hospital after he was hijacked by three knife-wielding men not too far from his home.

“Crime is even worse when you’re a foreigner. That day, one held a knife to my neck, the other one at my side. They took everything,” he said. “You can’t walk from Nyanga to Philippi and expect to be safe. It’s dangerous.”

After listening to complaints raised by several people during the dialogue, Sotyu urged community members to work with the police. She said it was not only up to police and the government to combat crime.

“We are playing our role as police. We can’t do this alone; you as parents and community leaders need to play your part, especially to stop the gangsters who recruit kids from schools,” said Sotyu.