News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Saturday February 16th 2019

Pagad and police battle over anti-drug war

Sandiso Phaliso and Yugendree Naidoo

Almost a score of People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) members have been imprisoned, some of them for murder, yet the organisation has experienced growing support from community, civil and even, recently, political circles.

They were newsmakers again last weekend when 58 people were arrested following what police termed was an illegal gathering adjacent to a mosque in Lentegeur, Mitchell’s Plain.

The official police statement notes that officers were dispatched to the scene at about 8.30 last Saturday night where about 100 people had gathered in an open field, ostensibly to march on the house of a suspected drug dealer.

Police say the crowd failed to comply with an order to disperse and stun grenades and rubber bullets were fired, and two licensed firearms seized.

Police at the scene said they had received death threats from people in the crowd.

The 58 appeared in court on Monday and were released on bail.

Then this week Mitchell’s Plain was flooded with flyers critical of the police’s ability to deal with the crime and drugs which have ravaged the community.

Headlined ‘Be Veary careful of political opportunists’ the flyers appeared to be a direct swipe against Mitchell’s Plain police commissioner Jeremy Veary, who headed investigations into the organisation’s activities in the ‘90s.

“The organisation’s objectives of a drug-free community has over the years been opposed by the state by killing and imprisoning our members,” said Pagad spokesperson Cassiem Parker.

However, Parker said Pagad had “no intention of fighting the police” and was willing to work with the state, but “only if they are on the same page as us”.

He said he understood some police were doing their job in curbing crime and drug abuse in the area, and were “proud of efforts of keen police who are determined to diminish drug use in the streets and are opposed to drug dealers”.

But on the whole, what the police were doing was “not enough”.

Less than three months ago, Veary was reported as saying: “We don’t recognise Pagad, they are irrelevant.”
“We have structures we work with, like street committees and sector policing,” he was quoted as saying.

Efforts to get comment from him this week were unsuccessful. But despite the Mitchell’s Plain Community Policing Forum (CPF) siding with the police, rather than Pagad, there is strong support for Pagad within the community.

Mitchell’s Plain Crisis Line trauma counsellor Geraldine Young said residents generally supported Pagad.

Young said communities believed Pagad was doing something for them, whereas the police were less pro active.

“They feel Pagad listens to them and actually does something about their concerns.”

Community Correction Centre manager Alfreda Kennedy said Pagad’s reputation was such that people in Wellington had recently called for their support against drugs infiltrating the rural area.

And perceptions of Veary were not good, she said.

She said lobby groups within the community had tried to organise meetings with Veary in a bid to find solutions, but their approaches had been ignored. – West Cape News

Tags: drugs, pagad, saps

Leave a Reply