SAPS members are involved in Pretoria drug trade, says Tshwane MMC
PRETORIA - Tshwane MMC for community safety and emergency services Karen Meyer on Monday said she had received reports and footage showing that members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) are involved in drug dealing.
Meyer also lambasted the SAPS officers for allegedly preventing Tshwane Emergency Services personnel from dousing flames on buildings alleged drug peddlers were inhabiting.
Community members, mainly taxi drivers, on Monday assaulted suspects who had been arrested by police officers, before setting their premises on fire.
"Tshwane Emergency Services personnel were prevented by the crowds from accessing and treating the alleged drug peddlers, but they were also prevented from doing so by the SAPS to extinguish the fire.
"Although it was a volatile situation, they should protect the emergency services to fulfill their tasks. This was also the case during the events earlier this month elsewhere in the CBD," Meyer said.
"There are also similar reports and preliminary footage received by my office appears to indicate that the SAPS (officers) are also allegedly complicit in collecting money and facilitating the sale of drugs today.
"While we condemn any form of vigilante justice, the SAPS as a law enforcement agency must play its part and not be a part of the problem."
Meyer challenged Gauteng SAPS provincial commissioner, Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela to "urgently investigate these allegations about the involvement of his officers and their refusal to permit emergency services personnel onto the scene to do their work".
Meyer said: "Despite repeated commitments and in-good-faith discussions between the TMPD (Tshwane Metro Police Department) and SAPS, joint drug-busting operations have not taken place, and it is no wonder that the community view law enforcement as part of the problem."
She said the SAPS "urgently needs to come to the party to assuage the fears of communities living with the daily scourge of drugs and address the perceptions that law enforcement is involved or run the risk of this being held true due to silence and inaction".
The SAPS said a group of people, believed to be taxi operators, on Monday assaulted two suspected drug dealers who had been arrested by police officers at the infamous Bloed Street in Pretoria CBD.
Gauteng police spokesperson, Captain Kay Makhubele, said police officers working on information about drug-related activities in Bloed Street spotted the two, but the duo fled into a building with the law enforcement agents in pursuit.
"Police cornered and arrested them, and seized drugs found in possession of the suspects. The value of the drugs is yet to be determined," Makhubele said.
"It is at this point that police were allegedly confronted by a group of people believed to be taxi operators, who then assaulted the suspects.
"Police were able to swiftly diffuse the situation and the suspects were rescued and rushed to a nearby hospital for medical attention.
"Police later received reports of a building on fire and it has been confirmed that the building was, in fact, the scene where the suspects had been arrested earlier. A case of arson has been opened for investigation and no arrest has been made," Makhubele said.