In the wake of the horrifying murders of two young women in Phiri and Mapetla, the local residents rallied together in a united and peaceful march. The procession stretched from Merafe Hostel to Moroka Police Station, serving as a collective plea for immediate action.
The atmosphere was charged with intense emotions as community leaders and residents converged outside the police station, their voices lifted in the rhythmic cadence of songs associated with liberation movements. Their purpose was clear: to present their list of grievances to Brigadier Shiburi, the station commander, and to insist on prompt intervention.
Among those leading the charge was Buhle Zondi, the secretary of Ward 16 in Mapetla. Reading out the memorandum addressed to Brigadier Shiburi, Zondi underscored the grim reality they faced: three murder cases within two weeks. The lives of their sisters had been cruelly extinguished, yet no suspects had been apprehended or brought in for questioning.
Zondi’s words echoed the heart-wrenching stories that had united this community in grief and anger. The tragic incidents ranged from a four-year-old child tragically burned in her mother’s shack to a young lady fatally shot in Phiri and a 13-year-old girl brutally raped and murdered on Women’s Day near Merafe Hostel. Zondi’s candid words criticised the police’s silence in the face of these atrocities, juxtaposing it with their self-proclaimed identity as “dogs” yet devoid of any bite.
The shadow of female murder cases loomed large, spreading like an uncontrollable wildfire throughout the township communities. This escalating pattern instilled a pervasive fear among those who bore witness to the brutalities.
Amid this distressing backdrop, the community’s frustration toward the South African Police Service (SAPS) simmered. A resident’s voice rang out during the march, conveying their disillusionment with the inability of law enforcement to deliver justice and ensure safety. The accusation that police officers left the hostel premises with “smiley faces,” purportedly receiving bribes from criminals, fueled the sense of betrayal and ineffectiveness.
In response to the community’s heartfelt demands, Brigadier Shiburi addressed the assembly with a call for collective effort. He recounted a project initiated at Nancefield Hostel, where patrollers tirelessly safeguarded the vicinity. Brigadier Shiburi emphasised the necessity of implementing a similar endeavour to restore order and security to Merafe Hostel. He implored the community not to remain silent, particularly when they possessed knowledge of the culprits. His words resonated with a call for unity, urging them to work hand in hand as a cohesive force against criminal elements.
The vibrant and resolute residents delivered an ultimatum to the station: a demand for a comprehensive report on the cases above within seven days. Their commitment to change and insistence on justice remained unwavering as they awaited a response. The narrative encompassed the trajectory from grief to collective action, encapsulating the community’s journey from mourning to resilience.
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Photo: Supplied by Sowetan Urban