Marikana residents say better lighting could curb crime in the area

Police Minister, Bheki Cele, and National Police Commissioner, Khehla Sithole, on a walkabout in Marikana settlement, Cape Town, after the "lock-down, stop and seizure operation". Photo by Mzi Velapi

Marikana residents will continue without streets lights that could curb crime in the area as the City of Cape Town awaits the outcome of its appeal against a court order that it acquire the land from the private owner.

Marikana residents have urged the City of Cape Town to install street lights in the informal settlement as part of its efforts to fight crime in the area. The residents were making the plea during the police minister’s walkabout in the area on Sunday. Minister Bheki Cele returned to the Philippi East police precinct after deploying additional police officers for the “lock-down, search and seizure operation” in the early hours of Friday morning. Two weeks ago six people we shot and killed in the area.

“It’s pitch dark at night in Marikana; we need street lights. Its easy for thugs to throw away their weapons when they see the police,” said Jomo Manxilana.

Another resident, Nonyameko Mhlana, said that they live in fear in Marikana, whether its during the day or at night. “You hear gunshots everyday and even during the day here. There are no street lights; there is only one mast light and its not even working,” she said. On the day of the police operation GroundUp reported the same.

Mzwanele Jokani, also from Marikana informal settlement, said that the City promised them nine mast lights and the one that is there “only worked three days.”

In May, residents of Marikana protested for services including the installation of electricity in the area and street lights. Residents of Marikana have been calling for the City of Cape Town to expropriate the land on which the settlement sits from the owner so that it can provide services to them. A landmark Western Cape High Court judgement ordered the City of Cape Town to obtain the land but it is appealing the decision.

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Mayoral Committee Member for Energy and Climate Change, Phindile Maxiti, said that they cannot install the high mast lights because of the City’s appeal against the High Court.

On the high mast light that is not working, Maxiti said that “the City is currently surveying all high mast areas for outages of mast lights.”

Police Minister, Bheki Cele, told the crowd gathered on Sheffield Road near Marikana in Philippi that he hopes that the police will work with all spheres of government to provide services. “The police alone cannot fight crime, it needs the three spheres of government to be involved,” said Cele.

Walkabout and ways to fight crime

Residents of Marikana criticised the police minister for not going inside the informal settlement. On his walkabout, Cele went to Goal Supermarket and to Sheffield Road, the road dividing Marikana from Lower Crossroads.

“It’s no use for him to stand here in the main road and not go inside the informal settlement. He has to go in so that he can see these things that we raise with him for himself,” said Monde Nonxuba.

“Thugs and police officers are familiar with each other in the area and that is why crime is getting out of control. We need to deploy cops from other precincts. Things always change when they deploy Bellville South cops in the area,” said Monwabisi Mnyoka.

Meanwhile, Amanda Makholwa believes that unless something is done about youth unemployment in the area, crime will remain high. “There are no activities for young people in this area and most of the youth are unemployed. In most households you find that there is only one person working and that is the problem. We need to deal with youth unemployment,” she said.

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