JOHANNESBURG – Residents of one of the densely-populated suburbs in Johannesburg, South Africa, expressed rage at migrants and local police at the weekend, threatening fresh xenophobic attacks as they accused the non-South Africans of committing crime and corrupting local police officers.
Unleashing their verbal anger during a Police Chiefs Imbizo – attended by Minister of Police Bheki Cele and his Home Affairs counterpart, Aaron Motsoaledi and held in Yeoville, eastern Johannesburg Saturday, the residents blamed black migrants, the police and government for the delinquency that has turned the suburb into a haven for criminals.
“Government is letting us down and pushing us to the corner by allowing foreigners to enter our borders at will,” raged one resident.
“The most worrying thing is that of foreign nationals who are undocumented but get employed, something which has turned us into foreigners in our own land.”
Yeoville, just like the nearby suburbs of Berea and Hillbrow, have been spared attacks previously, probably due to the high number of migrants there, but the angry residents warned that if government ignored their pleas to put a check on both the numbers and activities of non-nationals, fresh anti-foreigner attacks would be unleashed and a lot of blood would be shed.
“We pay rent to foreigners, why and how? We want these people who live here without documentation to go back to their countries. The storm of xenophobic attacks is brewing here in Yeoville. It is brewing because of problems that we encounter and sadly police officers take part in those problems by assisting the criminals. Arrest these criminals and deport them to serve their jail terms in their countries. There is no reason why our tax should feed these criminals in jail,” said another resident.
A man who said he resided in nearby Jeppe claimed he was robbed and when he called the police, they said they could not attend to his case because people get killed at the nearby mountain.
“Our police officers are robbers. That alone tells you that these police officers work hand-in-hand with these criminals,” he charged.
“Why are our police officers not patrolling? You can only see them stopping where there are Nigerians who sell drugs, but not arresting them, which tells you that they are in those dirty deals. We have tried to ask for mobile police stations to be set in different corners here in Yeoville, but unfortunately, our requests fall on deaf ears.”
Rising crime in Yeoville is believed to have forced the closure of some businesses, which include Nandos and banks like Capitec, ABSA and FNB. The residents complained that their several attempts to have authorities remedy the situation had so far proved sterile.
“It’s so sad to see businesses closing because of crime where we have a police station just close to those business places. The cops know the criminals but they don’t arrest them because they give them money. We request you minister to rotate these officers after a certain period. All the cops who are here should be transferred and replaced with new ones who are not friends with these criminals,” complained another resident.
“The senior officers at Yeoville police station are very corrupt. They have hijacked the buildings and people pay rent to them. Junior officers who are posted here cannot do anything because of these corrupt seniors. Drug dealers are known corrupt police officers. It is a pity now because once we see the cops we know that we will be harassed. They harass us as a way of silencing us.
“Drugs are selling like tomatoes here in Yeoville. When criminals are arrested they are released within a space of few hours. We are so much in deep confusion as cases against us are reported by police officer, the witnesses are the police officers again. This a total mess.”