By LINDA PONA
On Monday, 13 February, the atmosphere at the Noluthando Community Hall in Makhanda’s Joza township was packed to capacity as angry community members defended the Grahamstown Anti-Crime Facebook group during a meeting.
The anti-crime group called a meeting with members of the community to discuss the way forward for the group. The gender included the possible closure of the neighbourhood watch group; and the case against six of its members, including the chairperson, Luyanda Sakata, for the alleged murder of alleged criminals.
The meeting touched on the possible closure of the group because the group perpetuates “the view is that crime happens a lot in Makhanda,” said Sakata. This is because crime is reported in the group.
“We initially opened a page for the group on Facebook because we would often report issues to the Makhanda-Grahamstown page, where our comments were often ignored or sometimes deleted. We opened this page so that our people would have a forum where they could report neighbourhood crime so that we can attend to it quickly in efforts to make our townships safer. However, it has also recently come to my attention that our Facebook group is also adding problems in that it creates the impression that there is more crime in the town than there actually is,” Sakata said during the meeting.
This meeting also follows Grocott’s Mail’s published article on the ongoing murder case and the allegations around it. Following Grocott’s reporting on the matter, community members expressed their dismay at the arrest of the members.
During the meeting, members of the community also expressed their concerns over the group’s possible closure by “forces that do not want them to operate”, with many saying that the group has become a refuge for justice in the township, as they feel police in the town are unresponsive to the crimes they often try to report.
Members of the communities present added that they are plagued by issues such as gender-based violence, drug abuse, cable theft and petty crimes, which the police force and ward councilors in the town have time and again proven to not have the capacity to deal with.
Meeting chair Mfundisi Tsili said that the group was important to the community as it facilitates the reduction of crime and strives to protect all the community members, despite the different political affiliations they all have.
Meanwhile, the group’s problems are far from over, as they have financial challenges and require support from the community, particularly for operational items and legal fees, given the impending murder case. The court proceedings will be held at the Grahamstown Magistrates Court on 27 March 2023.
The arrested suspects have also commented on the treatment and conditions of their arrest. Grocott’s Mail is awaiting a response from the Eastern Cape region police spokesperson, Majola Nkohli. A follow-up will be made. This is a developing story.