We cannot live in a prison, Cele assures Westbury residents

Police Minister Bheki Cele has instructed police officers to make sure that they are not only seen but that their presence is felt when dealing with gang violence in Westbury.

“When children turn their homes into prisons because they fear to go outside, then we have a problem, Cele said during a crime-prevention imbizo in the area.

“Children should be outside playing, and we should call them inside to bath. We cannot live in a prison.”

The minister apologised to the community for withdrawing police officers who were deployed to the gang-infested area in 2018.

“We will implement these forces and come back for a sit-down [discussion]. From there, you will tell us if you need us to remove them or leave them in place. 

“We are here to do as you say, we want to listen. We want to work with you as residents and I want to assure you that at this level, we don’t want to work around race and politics.” 

Cele made four promises:

  • We are going to keep these forces here
  • We are going to send a team to deal with the police that are not working with us
  • We are going to send a team of detectives to deal with unresolved cases
  • We need the community to work together with the police

He confirmed that 53 unsolved cases have been picked up in Westbury.

“The team will avail themselves to the community to pick up on the backlog and more cases will be resolved,” he said.

Panyaza Lesufi, the premier of Gauteng, also attended the imbizo.

“The time to talk is over. It is time to act now,” Lesufi told the disgruntled residents who had turned out in big numbers to listen to the politicians.

“I do not want to make any promises, but I want my actions to speak for themselves.” 

The mayor of Johannesburg, Thapelo Amad, also formed part of the entourage.

Amad said: “Different areas have different challenges, but my message to the drug lords and perpetrators of crime is that we will never rest until our city is declared safe.

“[We will make sure that] our children get access to parks without fear and [that] our mothers can do their shopping freely.”

Cele returns to volatile Westbury for crime-prevention imbizo

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