Residents of the Merafong Municipality on the far west rand of Gauteng are suffering severe losses to life and property as crime surges. Earlier this week, DA ward councillors met with senior SAPS officials in collaboration with the local CPF in Carletonville
SAPS confirmed the shocking reality that crime levels in Merafong are at their highest level ever:
• Merafong is now officially on the SAPS “Red Dot” list for the highest crime activity
• SAPS resources are so dangerously overcommitted that they have to respond to crimes in the order of severity. This implies that there are so many serious crimes such as murder in Merafong, that house robberies and cable theft cannot be attended to in time. Murder rates are spiking, especially in areas such as Blyvoor
• In Khutsong Ext 5 and Welverdiend a new modus operandi is at work: residents are highjacked and a ransom of R50 000 is extracted from their families. These brazen criminals are willing to return their kidnap victim for R30 000 but will only release the vehicle upon payment of the full ransom amount.
• Residential robberies are especially high on Wednesdays, Fridays and weekends
• Theft of motor vehicles spikes on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays
• Stock theft is through the roof. Of the nearly 2000 cases reported over the last 24months, only 28 convictions were secured
• Theft of municipal infrastructure, especially cables, is now a daily reality leaving residents without power for weeks on end.
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While the police are checking scrap metal shops once a week for stolen cables, a stronger intervention and more visible police presence are required to clamp down on crime in the area. SAPS is calling on residents to become reservists as they cannot face the battle alone.
The crime crisis is also being enabled by the Merafong Municipality. Severely cash-strapped and riddled with supply chain problems, the grass is not being cut, streetlights are not working, and power outages are common in all areas. Municipal officials are acting out in frustration by attacking ward councillors for highlighting problems in their wards on social media.
Community WhatsApp groups have become the platforms of choice for reporting crime, as it proves more successful than trying to contact SAPS. This has led to an unfortunate situation where residents turn on one another and on the ward councillors in disgusting displays of anonymous flaming. Ward councillors in especially Fochville (Ward14, 21) and Carletonville/Oberholzer (wards 16,17,18 28) are under constant siege from community members. While opposition councillors do their best to report complaints and extract accountability from officials, the Mayor and Executive Council refuse to accept their culpability for the situation and have not been seen by the community in months.
For a long time now, the DA has been calling for the establishment of specialised rural policing units to help clamp down on crime in areas that are far from police stations.
The DA in Merafong will also be taking the following steps to stand with Merafong residents as we, as a community, are in a fight for our very survival:
• We will be engaging the SAPS, the Municipality, the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, and the MEC for Community Safety in Gauteng at every available opportunity to create maximum awareness of our situation, and to forge solutions for the way forward.
• We will be engaging our communities in Merafong in various ways including oversight and public engagement sessions to work out a community-driven plan of action.