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People raise ire at Imbizo

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People raise ire at Imbizo

by Melissa Papier
09 May 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

Emotions ran high at a provincial government Imbizo where crime, drugs, corruption, health and service delivery were highlighted.


The Imbizo was held in the Westridge Civic Centre. Mitchell's Plain is one of 15 areas identified by Premier Ebrahim Rasool as high priority for action against crime and drug abuse.

Residents could air their grievances to a panel of provincial representatives. These included Ms Kholeka Mqulwana, provincial MEC for Social Services and Poverty alleviation; Mr Leonard Ramatlakane, provincial MEC for Community Safety; Mr Pierre Uys, provincial MEC for Health; Rasool and Director Jeremy Veary, Mitchell's Plain police station commissioner.

Gangsters and drug dealers go to the night court when (they are) arrested, where their favourite lawyers and magistrates are working. They hand these lawyers and magistrates money and within a few hours they are back in the community and this is disappointing to a community.

The venue was packed as residents gathered to share their views. About 30 questions were raised, but many, after travelling long distances to attend, were dissatisfied that only a few could speak.

Ms Sadia Diedericks, a community worker, said the sector policing strategy is not working. Hendricks said they kept calling meetings, but nothing was happening.

Diedericks said: "Drugs are taking over our communities, some drug dealers have been dealing for more than 10 years with nothing being done about it. Gangsters and drug dealers go to the night court when (they are) arrested, where their favourite lawyers and magistrates are working. They hand these lawyers and magistrates money and within a few hours they are back in the community and this is disappointing to a community."

An emotional Mr Abdullah Boltman, former neighbourhood watch member, said the neighbourhood watch did not have the support from the police.

"We risk our lives every time we patrol the areas, without getting payment," said Boltman. "When we approach thugs we have no bulletproof vests or guns to offer us protection. This makes our jobs difficult as the thugs disregards us completely. If you call on the police they say they are too busy to assist."

Ramatlakane responded that neighbourhood watches must give their details to the police commissioner to see where the police can help.

When we approach thugs we have no bulletproof vests or guns to offer us protection. This makes our jobs difficult as the thugs disregards us completely.

"We have to respect these people who offer up their time to patrol our streets to make our communities safer. We need to work together in a structured way to fight crime, because we don't want these groups to become vigilante groups, taking the law into their own hands," Ramatlakane said, adding that it was "unfair" to label all police as corrupt.

He said residents who knew of police corruption should forward those details to the station commissioner for investigation, or "our offices... to deal with the problem".

A Mitchell's Plain Day Hospital worker, who wished to remain nameless, said the situation at the hospital was shocking.

"The place is packed to capacity; patients have to get up early to collect their medication at the hospital, some as early as 02:00 in the morning, many still not receiving all their medication. The cleanliness and hygiene of the hospital is disgusting. We are under-staffed, so is the cleaning staff. Where is the hospital which was supposed to be built in Mitchell's Plain?" he said.

Uys said the government is aware of the situation and "started a separate chronic collection point outside the hospital" where people could collect chronic medication, thereby easing the burden of the hospital pharmacy.

"We need more NGO's to get involved and help distribute medication to patients in the community. There is a great need for a hospital to be built in Mitchell's Plain, where you have beds to accommodate medical faculties. The department has identified a site for the building and construction should begin soon."

We are under-staffed, so is the cleaning staff.

Mitchell's Plain Youth Development Forum PRO, Mr Farouk Davids, had an issue with a shortage of facilities to engage the youth.

"The youth needs more access to opportunities. We need to develop their skills which are needed by the business sector to grow our economy and alleviate poverty. We must not just look at 2010; we need plans in place which will filter through to ground level, with more organisations and government structures uniting," said Davids.

Mqulwana said, "There are youth committees which deal with issues concerning the youth. Organisations need to come together and unite with the government to address these issues."

Saying he was happy with the large turnout, Rasool said the Imbizos gave the government an indication of the needs of the community.

Rasool suggested the community of Mitchell's Plain organise themselves against crime, as the people of Manenberg did to make "a difference".

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