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11 March 2019

The North West MEC for Community Safety and Transport Management, Dr Mpho Motlhabane and the departmental Civilian Secretariat Chief Directorate convened an all inclusive dialogue to end the crime and gang issues in strive-torn Bloemhof township.

The area has recently experience gang-related crimes, unrest, violence, act of vengeance and lawlessness. Three houses of police investigators were torched by angry residents who are accusing SAPS officials of colluding with the gang members. They are alleging that SAPS investigators are dragging their feet instead of following up on cases community members lodged against gangsters. They further, allege that many of community members and taxi operators were harassed, arrested and tortured by SAPS Investigators for unleashing a sting operations against the gang activities.

"The government interventions is going to be heightened as we have also noted irresponsible social media reports about intended illegal protest actions including possible blockading of the N12 road that planned for Bloemhof. Please desist from this type of threats and allow state organs to intervene and stabilise crime without you taking the law into your hands. All government services must be accessed by the citizens of this country and this townships, in particular. Business must continue uninterrupted, schools must not be closed, health and social services must also be allowed to operate without threats". Said MEC Motlhabane.

In attendance, to the MEC dialogue with Bloemhof Anti-Ganstrism and Crime Prefention Forum (BAGCPF), were SAPS Bloemhof Station Commander, Colonel April and management, SAPS Cluster Commander Brigadier Tlotleng, North West Tactical Response Team (TRT), JAWS, Taxi Associations, Department of Social Development, Department of Health, Maquassie Hills Local Municipality, Provincial Older Persons Forum, Crime Intelligence and Dr RS Mompati Office of the Premier.
Parties outlined their discomfort about violent attacks, gangsterism, deaths and vengeances which have griped Boitumelong, Bloemhof, township in the recent five or so months. Lawlessness and gangsterism have reached unimaginable proportions. A youth killed an old man at the taxi rank in full view of the drivers and commuters. The taxi association members unleashed a war against gang members and the Boitumelong communities supported this bold and fearless campaign.
Over the weekend another old man was apparently robbed of his belongings and bicycle as well as being killed by the gang members. This sparked new tension and the township was slipping back into a pensive mode.

Unfortunately this sheer anarchy and remonstration could not be tolerated to fester on hence the police intervened swiftly and decisively to stabilise and normalise the situation.

Subsequently, some of the BAGCPF members were arrested and investigations are ongoing, meanwhile BAGCPF accuses SAPS of being heavy handed. SAPS is also accused of prioritising cases against BAGCPF and community members and abandoning cases against gangsters which have not been followed up.

Previously there was a protest march by the community members who handed out a memorandum detailing all community demands for the Premier to intervene.

MEC Motlhabane committed to elevating the issues raised but pleaded for calm to be restored back to the, otherwise stable.

"A boitumelo bo boele mo Boitumelong. All government services and school should proceed uninterrupted. The investigation of cases would be elevated to the SAPS cluster level. Formal complaints against those Investigation Officers who are accused of colluding with the gang members and criminals should be lodged with evidence provided. BAGCPF will be assisted to become a formal and constitutional structure, an NPO. Memorandum of concerns and issues will be forwarded to Premier's Office. Community Policing Forum will be resuscitated, supported and held accountable to the community. The Premier will be requested to visit Bloemhof at some point for a feedback session with a broader community once all interventions are underway." Summarised MEC Motlhabane.

The initially tense meeting ended on a high note with all parties pleading for corporation, further engagements and dialogues.

Meanwhile, the MEC noted and announced immediately to the dialogue session, the arrival of a team of high ranking SAPS officials deployed by the North West Provincial Commissioner, Lt General Baile Motswenyane to Bloemhof. He had sought for this high level intervention.


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