Taung residents have joined the Police in their never-ending battle against crime. Angry community members resolved to go up-in-arms against the criminals because they feel “it has to end and it has to end now.”
This initiative commenced in April after the realization that crimes such as house-breaks and contact crimes (robbery, assault and etc) escalated. This rise, says concerned residents,“Operation Hlasela (attack) all began when we marched to a well-known drug-dealer, was caused by an increase in the use of nyaope.Thabo Mmelesi, and informed him of our decision not to allow him to sell drugs anymore within the perimeters of our society. We then advanced to the known thugs and apprehended them and furthermore recovered some of the stolen goods” explained a young activist who asked not to be named.
One of the community elders, Mr Jack Modisaotsile, explained that they have over 70 cases since they started this crime-busting mission. “A lot of people come to us for assistance and we always encourage them to open criminal cases with SAPS before they can receive any help from us. We have a success rate of over 50% and Police are happy because not only do we hand over wanted criminals but we also exhibit recovered goods thus making the state’s case against the accused person stronger” he claimed.
“It is a good thing to see community members taking a stand against drugs and crime. I hope other communities will copy what we do so that they can actively play a role in their safety. We need to be mindful of the fact that police alone can never fight drug abuse and crime, we, as community members, know the drug-dealers and we know the criminals…the one element needed is to take ownership of our very own safety” he concluded.
Lieutenant Colonel Kgwenyape of Taung SAPS confirmed knowledge of this particular community group and their achievements. “The concern that we had and raised with the group’s leadership was the fact that suspects were assaulted before being handed over and this had a negative impact on the cases”
“The group has, since inception, recovered three computers, two laptops, three television sets, one DVD system, kitchen appliances and two slaughtered sheep,amongst others.
Lt Col Kgwenyape confirmed knowledge of Thabo Mmelesi and other drug-dealers and further added that “we cannot just up and arrest them only because of the allegations tabled against them, we need to catch them with drugs before we can charge them with possession of and/or dealing with drugs.”
Young activists say since they had a meeting with SAPS and subsequently agreed that there would be no more complaints of assault from their side, they have then opted for silly stunts like making suspects kiss each other, perform drama, sing and even talk to themselves in mirrors.
The rates of house-breaks and contact crimes have since gone done in Taung since Operation Hlasela took in. Maybe other communities should indeed copy what the Taung community is doing as a crime-prevention initiative.
Story by Bakang Mankuroane