“I want to die of old age not because I was murdered by some low life thug”

While much of the country protested against the president, residents of Ocean View expressed their frustration with crime

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Photo of banner in Ocean View protest against crime
Residents of Ocean View are frustrated at the failure to bring crime under control

A silent protest against crime turned violent in Ocean View on Friday morning, when youths attempted to block roads by burning tyres and throwing stones. Police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. 

Residents told GroundUp that gunshots and murder have became normal in their community with people dying on a weekly basis. From as early as five in the morning today while many South Africans were preparing for the marches against President Jacob Zuma with the slogan “Zuma must fall”, Ocean View residents were saying “Crime must fall”. They stood with placards at the entrance of the community in silence.

After being stable with between 19 and 26 murders a year from 2005 to 2015, the number of recorded murders in the Ocean View policing precinct jumped to 41 last year.

Stephanie Jafta, 42, was born and raised in Ocean View. She says the community has changed for the worse. “I am angry more than I am scared,” said the mother of four who works as a community health worker. “I have no words to describe how I am feeling. Our community has changed so much … I live in fear for me and my children,” she says.

Jafta says she is worried everyday when her children go to school because they must walk in the “hotspot” areas. “I want to protect them but I can’t because I also need to work and put food on the table. Parents need to speak out. It’s our children that are doing these things. If you know your child has a gun or drugs in the house, go to the police,” she says.

Photo: Thembela Ntongana

Another resident who did not want to be identified says that people don’t speak up because they are scared. “We know who these people are. We know where they stay but we are scared. The whole community is scared because we do not want to be victims as well. I want to die of old age not because I was murdered by some low life thug,” he says. He says that residents have lost trust in the police because they have failed them so many times.

Ocean View Community shares a police station with three other communities one of which is Masiphumelele, which also has a serious crime problem. In 2015 Masiphumelele had a number of violent protests with residents demanding better policing from the Ocean View police station.

Community leader Patrick Joseph says a campaign is starting to restore Ocean View to how it was. “We want justice. The [gangs] are taking over the community. People are scared. The justice system is failing us. People are being arrested and released the same day … There are shootings happening in front of schools by gangsters fighting for turf,” he says.

“We are low priority. Now the question is… do we take the law into our own hands because people are tired of empty promises? You talk to the City [but] they blame national. New station commanders come and go leaving us with empty promises,” says Joseph.

TOPICS:  Crime Policing Violence

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