Frustrated residents in Makhaya, Khayelitsha, arrested after taking the law into their own hands

| Pharie Sefali
Residents from Makhaya arrested in Harare Police station. Photo by Tariro Washinyira.

Residents in Makhaya section 23 were arrested at 3am this morning, accused of chasing people out of their homes. While the police were arresting people, two houses in the area were being broken into by criminals.

“A red car parked outside my neighbor’s house and four people came out and struggled to open the gate,” said Akhona Ntyilo. “My neighbor shouted outside her window asking for help, but people were not around because they were chasing away the police two streets from her house. When the perpetrators saw the neighbor on the phone, they drove away.”

“An hour later, at another house in the area, they broke in and took appliances. The police were told, but they didn’t care because they were busy arresting innocent people,” said Ntyilo.

At least six people, five of them women between the ages of 40 and 70, were shoved into a police van in the early hours of the morning and taken to Harare police station. They were accused of intimidation.

Residents in Makhaya gathered in their nightgowns on the streets in the early hours of the morning, discussing how they can solve the situation. One resident said that they should all go to the police station and hand themselves in, because they were are all part of this, and it didn’t make sense for the police to only arrest a few people when the whole community should be arrested.

As GroundUp publishes, residents are meeting to discuss the plan to offer themselves for arrest at the police station, possibly this evening.

The police had responded to Thandi Ngukhume, a parent of a notorious gang member according to residents in Makhaya, who laid charges against her neighbors because she claimed that she was being chased out of her house for no reason. She believes the community has no right to force her to leave.

In the past few months, residents in Makhaya have been going from house to house in the area where there are suspected gangs members and criminals. They tell parents of perpetrators to lock their houses and leave the area, or to report their children to the police.

Ngukhume, after several meetings held in her house with residents who complained about her son breaking into houses in the area, still refused to take her son to the police. She says that the community is wrong to chase her out.

“We do not understand why she is refusing to report her son or to move from the area,” said a neighbour. “We are not happy in our own homes because her son and his friends are breaking into our houses almost every day. We keep on complaining to her and nothing is done about it.”

According to the police at Harare station, those arrested will appear in court tomorrow. They will sleep at the police station tonight as they have been charged.

“The police said that they will drop the charges if the residents allow those chased out of their homes to come back and let the police do their job,” said Thuli Somafu, who went to the Harare police station.

“We as the community are trying to sort out the crime situation in the area on our own because we do not trust the police. Now the police are making matters worse. These gangs are going to target us more because they know who is at the forefront of this situation,” said Somafu.

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