Rustenburg – Marikana in North West near Rustenburg is one of the areas where police found it difficult to police, acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane said on Friday.
“There are areas such as Marikana where police find it difficult to work. officers are attacked when responding to complaints,” he said at the national police day at Ikageng in Mosenthal near Rustenburg. He said events such as the national police day were intended to bring the police and the community together in order to fight crime. “We must find peace, we must bridge the gap. We are not enemies of the community.”
Residents of Marikana West marched to the Marikana police station on December 8 last year, and declared their area as a no go area for the police. They allegedly told the station commander that police would enter Marikana West at their own risk, that afternoon a man was hacked to death by a mob of over 30 people.
Six people including activist Napoleon Webster have been arrested in connection with that murder, they were expected to appear in the Rustenburg Magistrate’s Court sitting in Tlhabane on Monday for bail.
Tension between Marikana residents and the police stems from the death of 34 mineworkers who were killed by the police at a koppie near Nkaneng informal settlement four years ago, following a violent wildcat strike at Lonmin platinum mine Marikana operations.
In total 44 people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, where killed during the violent strike. Phahlane said in the previous financial year, 81 police officers were killed.
“In the 2015/2016, financial year 81 officers were killed, this figure include those who were killed in [road] accidents while on duty, 40 died in the line of duty. Since April, 45 officers were killed and those who died in the line of duty are 27.”
Earlier, the SA Policing Union (Sapu) said it was worried at the number of police officer who were killed. “Our members are mercifully killed,” said Sapu North West provincial chairperson Letebele Mothobi.
He said the union would continue to fight for better working conditions of the police officers and called on the community to work with the police to defeat crime.