Powerless and faced with daily gunfire, residents of Soweto’s informal settlement of Nomzamo cite the proliferation of illegal firearms and lack of electricity for the high crime rate they suffer.
Community Patrols Crime-fighting has been shut down because of the danger, and families are retiring to their homes after dark.
“This area is a dark zone. Street lights don’t work. We haven’t had electricity for three years. I can’t even go into a store at night,” said 37-year-old Andisiwa Mnyembane, pointing to a Spaza branch a few steps from her home.
“A gun is in here Toy. We are used to it. When we heard gunshots on Sunday we didn’t know people were dying, we thought it was normal as they always shoot with guns,” she said.
Mnyembane stays a few meters from the tavern , where it is located 15 people were killed in a hail of large caliber gunfire. Police are looking for five armed men who stormed the tavern at 00:30 on Sunday. Eight wounded guests are being treated in hospitals.
The mother-of-one spoke to TimesLIVE after visiting Police Minister Bheki Cele, his deputy Cassel Mathale and senior management of the SA Police Service led by National Commissioner Gen Fannie on Monday Masemola to Nomzamo Park in Orlando East. Leaders listened to residents’ concerns at a community forum before promising interventions to address the problems.
About a kilometer from their home, a family is mourning after losing a son in the tragedy .
Sphethuxolo Chiliza, 28, was not a regular drinker and rarely attended local establishments and generally did not go out late, said a family member, Xolelwa Bala.
“I think that was just unlucky. He’s someone who rarely goes there. It’s painful, his parents aren’t here – they’re in the Eastern Cape,” said Bala.
Chiliza had just returned to the settlement on Friday after having had a work assignment.
According to his brother-in-law, Siyanda Mbele, Chiliza was working in the settlement while he was there, but the company he worked for relocated him. “He wasn’t there for about a month and didn’t come back until Friday.”
That was the last day he saw him alive. “When I met him he told me he was going to deposit money. I went to work on Saturday, so I couldn’t see him.”
Mbele described Chiliza as someone who doesn’t argue with anyone. “He was a good person, but there’s nothing we can do. He’s gone.”
He lamented the high crime rate in the settlement.
“Guns are shot at every day. If you go to work early, the lights are off – there’s a good chance you’ll be targeted by criminals. Also, if you’re late from work, that’s a security issue,” he said.
Mnyembane locks herself in her house as soon as the sun goes down.
” We’re not secure. We are neglected. If there were streetlights, this couldn’t happen. The police are afraid to come here. We have no CPFs and patrols, you are on your own here. Take care,” she said.
She said that patrol officers used to be visible, but this initiative stopped about three years ago.
Another resident, Wandile Rafuza, said there was a lack of equipment Protecting the patrols had caused local residents to lose interest.
“The patrols had no resources. We don’t have [active] CPFs now, but we do have CPF structures. Because of what’s happening here, no one wants to be involved. We’re all scared,” he said.
Greater Orlando CPF Chair Dumi Twala admitted that over the past three years it has been difficult to set up proper CPF structures in the Nomzamo area .
He also referred to the gun problem in the area and the lack of electricity.
“We were here during a crime prevention operation and we wanted to form the block committees. A few people raised their arms to say they wanted to take part. But when we contacted them, they told us they feared for their lives and that it was dark.
“We will work with the police to fight crime in this area, but we cannot it alone. We can do it together as a community working with the police,” he said.
After listening to local residents, Cele said that Tactical Response Team (TRT) officers would be deployed to help with the To help police work.
“Starting today [Monday], before you sleep, they [TRT] will patrol the area. I’m sure once they arrive it will be clear they are here.
We urge you to cooperate with them so they can patrol the area and protect the community. We want to saturate the streets here and make sure we restore power to the thugs.”
Cele said an additional fleet of vehicles was also dispatched to the Orlando Police Department to expand SAPS’ presence and operations to help fight and prevent crime. In addition, “Police visibility will be increased through disruptive operations aimed at eradicating crime and addressing the high prevalence of illegal firearms in the region.”
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