Ramaphosa asked to intervene as crime spirals out of control

A Mpumalanga chief has accused the police of failing to protect his people from being tormented by criminals.

Chief Mathupa Mokoena of the Mathibela Tribal Authority in Marite, Bushbuckridge, told Sunday World this week that he had several meetings with the police to alert them about crime in the area, but nothing is being done to curb it.

Mokoena, the president of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, claimed that his people have been suffering for many years at the hands of criminals.

He said his efforts in fighting crime in the area included meetings that were held between him and the police leadership at all levels.

“Crime has gone out of control in the area. I wish I had the power to arrest as a leader of this community,” he said.

“There is no way I would allow this to happen. I made so many efforts trying to address this problem.

“I invited the minister of police and recently the provincial commissioner. Two months ago, the MEC of community safety, security and liaison, Vusi Shongwe, was here to try to address the issue.”

Mokoena appealed to President Cyril Ramaphosa to take action, saying criminal activities continue uninterruptedly under the noses of the police.

“I call upon the president to prioritise Bushbuckridge in terms of curbing this crime that has gone out of control.”

Recently, the schools were shut down after teachers refused to return to work fearing that they might be attacked by criminals.

Teachers fed-up with crime

Last week, teachers from more than 50 schools around Marite demonstrated outside the offices of Marite circuit, where they handed over a memorandum demanding that security be strengthened at schools.

In a memorandum delivered by SA Democratic Teachers Union Marite branch chairperson Brian Ngobeni, and received by Patrick Mkhonto, the deputy director of labour in the Bohlabela district, the teachers demand police visibility and patrol in schools.

They also want urgent intervention by the national or provincial police leadership, as well as the immediate placement of armed security personnel in schools.

“We demand proper security, clear-view fencing panels in all schools, and frequent random searches. Educators and learners are being attacked and mugged during schooling hours,” reads the memorandum in part.

When receiving the memorandum, Mkhonto promised: “We will work on your request and get back to you.”

It is alleged that on Thursday, when the teachers were gathered at Madukulushe soccer field, another educator who was preparing exam documents at Mathipe Secondary, a few kilometres from the gathering, was held at gunpoint and robbed of her bag and cellphone.

Criminals reportedly attacked more than 10 schools recently.

Apart from the robberies, it is claimed that the thugs also broke into some schools and stole computers, gadgets, food, and other useful resources.

The residents who spoke to Sunday World confirmed that they are living in fear. They refused to be identified for fear of being victimised.

“Last month, we were in a taxi from Hazyview to Marite when an armed gang stopped us and demanded that we give them money, cellphones and groceries,” said an angry resident.

“We gave them [what they wanted] so that they would allow us to go home.”

Truck driver shot dead

Another resident who shared the same sentiments stated that criminals were blocking the R40 Road and hijacking trucks and delivery vehicles.

“A few days ago, they hijacked a truck that was delivering bread. They offloaded all the bread and dumped them at the soccer field,” said the resident.

The truck, according to the resident, was left unattended at the cemetery.

In September, a truck driver was shot and killed during a robbery in Marite.

According to police, the truck driver was trying to avert a robbery when he was shot several times and died on the scene.

Moeti Mmusi, spokesperson for the department of community safety, security and liaison, said it is aware of criminal activities in the area.

“The security cluster is fully aware of the challenges, and these matters are receiving urgent attention,” said Mmusi.

“The response to the Marite crises cannot be publicly shared at this stage. The department conducted an imbizo in the area in July this year.”

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