Community networks must never protect criminals

Dan Plato

Western Cape Minister of Community Safety:

I welcome the arrests of 7 suspects for the brutal shovel murder of 20 year old Vernon Christoffels in Delft on Tuesday, 24 February 2015. I trust that the arrests come on the back of thorough investigation by the South African Police Service (SAPS) to enable the criminal justice system to effectively carry out its mandate.

 

Christoffels’ death was allegedly prompted by his refusal to be drawn into the culture of gangs and drugs which has taken hold of his community. According to reports, the community was aware that the victim has been receiving threats to his life for more than a month already.

 

The Department of Community Safety in the Western Cape believes that safety is everyone’s responsibility and that the whole of society – every member of our communities – has a responsibility towards safety in their area.

 

No community can allow one of their own to receive legitimate threats to safety and not take any action to report it and to prevent harm. I am available 24/7, I regularly hand out my cellphone number to communities and I will immediately escalate any threats of violence or murder to the Provincial Commissioner’s office.

 

No parent can abscond responsibility of their child or attempt to legitimate their child’s illegal and criminal acts by remaining silent or pretending that they do not know what their child is getting up to.

 

The SAPS and safety partners in government and civil society are trying their level best to ensure the safety of our communities and its members where they work, live and move about.

 

The threats to these safety efforts will not go away until every person takes up their responsibility to not look the other way when being confronted by crime, gangs and drugs and report every incident.

 

It is time we speak up about the unmentionables in our community, it is time we identify and report the elements that are threatening everyone’s safety. If we don’t we allow our neighbour’s child to be murdered next.

 

Every murderer is someone’s child, brother, sister, family member or friend.

 

We need strong community networks, a social fabric weaved by members who support one another, to speak out against crime, report drug abuse and drug related crimes. The corruption and the gangsterism which so often plague our communities must come to an end.