Residents attack officers, free suspect

Grassy Park Community Police Forum executive member David Benjamin, left, and CPF chairman Melvyn Jonkers, hold up a banner for the CPF’s “Stop the Attacks” campaign, which was launched last Thursday.

A suspected drug dealer escaped arrest in Ottery last Friday after residents attacked the Law Enforcement officers trying to apprehend him, says the City.

The officers found 53 dagga stoppe, 27 tik packets and a heroin tablet on the man, but residents pelted the officers with stones when they tried to arrest him, said City Law Enforcement spokesman Wayne Dyason.

“A City vehicle was slightly damaged in the process, and the suspect managed to escape as a result of interference.”

The confiscated drugs were turned over to the police and the officers laid charges of public violence, assault on an officer, and damage to City property.

Grassy Park police spokeswoman Captain Wynita Kleinsmith confirmed that they were investigating.

Nicole Jacobus, deputy chairperson of the Grassy Park Community Police Forum, said the freed man was alleged to have gang connections.

“One officer sustained injuries to his arm and neck. Rubber bullets were fired,” she said.

Community worker Melanie Arendse said she did not condone what had happened and it had been an isolated incident. The man’s family had started throwing stones at the officers and other residents had joined in, she said. “I doubt they even know the reason they joined in the attack of those officers.”

However, she added that the community was wary of the police because of their alleged maltreatment of teenage drug users in the past.

“When some of them were arrested by police they were beaten up in the cells, and the community were fed up with this treatment from the police.

“We want them to come in, we want them to search and arrest because we are tired of the drug dealing in our area, but they are coming in and doing it the wrong way so they have offended the community.”

A partnership between the police and the community had to work both ways, she said. “It cannot come only from the community; the police need to meet us halfway.”

The attack came a day after the Grassy Park CPF launched its “Be a proud South African – stop the attacks” campaign to prevent attacks on the police and emergency services.

At the launch, Grassy Park police station commander Colonel Dawood Liang said attacks on the police ultimately hurt the community.

“The procurement process is a long process so when the community slashes our tyres or damages the windscreens, the vehicles are then out of service for between two and three weeks, which means there are less vehicles to come out to the community when they need the police there and when officers are attacked they cant work for at least 14 days.

“Then the communities ask us why there are so few members or too few vehicles.”

Ms Jacobus said there had been 28 attacks on SAPS vehicles and seven on City Law Enforcement vehicles in the precinct over the past year.

The CPF plans to hand out 5000 fliers in hot spots on Saturday March 19, starting on the corner of Acacia Road and Blackbird Avenue in Parkwood from noon.

CPF chairman Melvyn Jonkers said attitudes needed to change in the community. “These attacks cannot be tolerated. It is a sad reflection of the lawlessness of some elements in our society.

“We view such attacks on police and law enforcers as an attack on the state and the culprits should be severely punished.”

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said communities should not allow a few perpetrators to empower criminals in their neighbourhoods, and he urged anyone with information to come forward.

“This time their attack allowed the criminal to escape, but tomorrow that same criminal may injure or kill a child or someone you care about. The attack allowed the criminal to be free to commit another crime. Next time his defenders may be his victims.”

Grassy Park police station commander Colonel Dawood Liang said attacks on the police ultimately hurt the community.
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