by RICHARD PILLAY – Global Indian Correspondent South Africa
Two Primary schools are on the left of the road and two establishments are across the road from the schools.
Actonville is small town in Benoni in the Gauteng province of South Africa. It is situated about 7 kilometres from Benoni central Business district and about 45 kilometres from Johannesburg.
A few years ago this was a desirable town in which one could raise a family and in fact it was the first choice of a place to live in by many people that arrived from the Kwa Zulu Natal province, to the Gauteng province.
Today, Actonville still has several schools and they are named: Benoni Primary School, Actonville Primary School, Pioneer Primary School, Roman Catholic School, William Hills Secondary School and Liverpool Secondary School. All of these schools including the primary schools have been targeted by drug dealers. The drug dealers have been selling all forms of drugs to the primary and secondary school children. This matter was reported to the local South African Police Station and to its Station Commander but the police have not taken any action to deal with the drug dealers. So the school children in Actonville are under the direct threat of drug dealers. Many of the parents are in denial about the drug problem that confronts their children. It has a single police station whose Station Commander has the rank of Colonel.
There are eleven municipal residential apartment buildings in Actonville. The names of these buildings are Agra Court, Ajmerry Court, Aligra Court, Aloe Court, Azalea Court, Bangalore Court, Delhi Court, Flora Court, Karachi Court, Lahore Court, and Primrose Court. They are euphemistically called “courts” but many of them are dilapidated and Delhi court has huge cracks on its walls. These cracks represent a danger to the inhabitants.
In a detailed survey that was conducted in 2014, 2015 and 2016 it was found that 89% of the residents of these municipal buildings were living far below the poverty line and many residents were in fact unemployed. It was also found that many youth and adults were using different forms of drugs. It was found that some women were using a scheduled tablet and drink coke with it to numb the hunger pains they experienced as they did not have food. This is a round green tablet it is commonly known as “still pain” and it also causes pregnant women to give birth prematurely and children born were undernourished and suffered from various ailments.
The person that supplied women with this tablet is a medical doctor who is notorious in the community. The local and cluster police including a Major General Subbiah, a person of Indian origin that professes the Hindu faith were informed of this man’s illegal activities and they did not take any measures to arrest him.
Many school children that live in these apartments suffer other additional problem because their electricity has been disconnected and therefore they cannot do homework nor can they study in the evenings, all this hardship is because their parents are unemployed.
Other problems that residents of this area complain about and are very aggrieved with includes but is not limited to: Unemployment and favouritism among certain council officials who employ their friends and family members in projects initiated by the council. Most earn less than the equivalent of two Social security grants for pensioners, which is R1800.00 per person. A direct illustration of this inhumane conduct of Human Settlement Department is that the granddaughter of Mary Moodley an ANC Stalwart and Liberation Movement heroine is served with an eviction notice. She was due to be evicted on 28 February 2017- her case is just one of hundreds of poor and unemployed people that are facing this dire threat. Tamara Moodley is a very sick; she is suffering from High blood pressure, diabetes, fatigue, and is receiving chronic medication. She is unemployed and her unemployment is a consequence of Mary Moodley’s activism against the apartheid regime.
The City of Ekurhuleni Human Settlement officials have proved to be malevolent, cold hearted, cruel, evil, ruthless, inhumane, irrational, uncaring, rude, arrogant, greedy, unwilling to listen to residents problems, unwilling to find amicable solutions and unwilling to treat residents with respect and dignity. This unacceptable conduct of Ekurhuleni Human settlement officials has caused residents to be very angry, horrified, frustrated, determined, in some cases despondent, and they accuse the ANC as a despicable organization that has lost their confidence and their vote. People that have lived in the Council apartments for more than 15 and 20 years are unilaterally instructed by certain council officials to sign and enter into new lease agreements and hence they are degraded into being new occupants. This conduct from certain council officials at the least is fraud. If the resident does not sign a new lease they are threatened with and issued with eviction notices.
Many residents that are eligible for Social security Grants are abruptly turned away and dismissed by the SASSA officials, when they apply. Rentals on Council residential apartments are unilaterally increased and it has become completely unaffordable to most residents. There is favouritism even in the payment of rentals one pays R500.00 and another R3000.00 for exactly the same sized council apartment. Certain human Settlement officials are using vulgar language on residents many of whom are senior citizens. Certain officials that are employed by the ANC municipality in Ekurhuleni are busy sabotaging the ANC and the ANC political leaders are too confused or don’t care about the complaints of residents and loss of voter confidence in it.
Actonville is known as ward 29 and it was an ANC – stronghold since 1994 and they lost it to the DA –in 2016 because the former ANC councillor and the council officials lied to the ANC caucus and the community. This was one of the main factors that caused the ANC to lose this ward. This type of conduct may also be the cause of the ANC losing Gauteng in the forthcoming elections. ANC is the African National Congress which is the ruling party nationally. DA is the Democratic Alliance which is the official opposition.
Nigerian drug dealers, who are known to the community and the local South African Police members, have been selling drugs to primary school children in and around Actonville for more than 15 years. Pakistani Human Traffickers and Human Smugglers have been operating in the Actonville, Wattville and the surrounding areas, with impunity for more than 18 years. On 10th February 2017 the residents of Actonville compiled a 10 page report that was handed over to the Station Commander of Actonville, who had taken over as Station Commander in December 2016. – The previous Station Commander was informed of the community concerns.
The same report was sent to the Executive Mayor of the City of Ekurhuleni as well as the Provincial Executive Committee of the ANC in Gauteng. Whether or not they will ever act on these reports is unknown. At the time of the writing of this article the Executive Mayor did not bother to respond to these complaints and problems.
The law abiding community is understandably very angry and frustrated at their economic, social and security problems. How they will react in future is still unknown.
Letters were written to the Municipal Officials, Letters were written to the previous mayor and other politicians, meetings were held with the officials and politicians; however all those efforts seem to have fallen on an uncaring, unresponsive, arrogant, council that is determined to treat Actonville residents with contempt and disdain.
It appears that appointed officials are clearly misleading the politicians into believing that the residents of Actonville are delighted with the inhumane treatment that they are receiving.
It also appears that certain council officials in their quest to achieve some obscure goal are determined to emotionally, intellectually and physically destroy the law abiding community of Actonville.
The majority of Actonville residents regard the Ekurhuleni Human Settlements Officials as DEVILS
One community activist on condition of remaining anonymous said: “We the concerned residents that reside in and around the Actonville policing area, that we have been besieged by criminals who commit crimes and when we call SAPS from Actonville their response is generally very tardy, disorganized and uninspiring. We have no confidence in SAPS Actonville and we request direct intervention from you, as the Station Commander.”
“We are conscious of the fact that when residents of Actonville lost confidence in SAPS Actonville, by extension they lost confidence in local government, they lost confidence in Provincial Government and they lost confidence in National government. The recent local government elections result proved this. This is one of the many factors that you need to take into consideration. Should the concerns of the residents not be addressed in a mature manner then this erosion in confidence in government will continue and the forth coming elections will again prove that.”
“Some details are set out herein under of what we are concerned about: Some SAPS Actonville members have proved to be dishonest and without any integrity. This is one of the biggest problems in the area as SAPS Actonville have lost credibility. Whenever we raise questions about the pathetic response times we are told that SAPS Actonville does not have vehicles and or personnel. At other times we are told that patrols are conducted, if in fact they are done how is it that house breakings and drug dealings occur at approximately the same times?” “Is it that SAPS and CPF members are either colluding with criminals or they are the house breakers or they assisting and protecting the drug dealers?”
“When we complain about crimes SAPS Actonville say they will arrive to attend at the time they choose. They say that we must be patient. These statements are revealing to us. How can we be expected to have confidence in SAPS Actonville when a SAPS member makes such statements? So they are telling us we are at the mercy of criminals until SAPS Actonville reacts – they dismally failed to explain why SAPS is not preventing crimes. The Client Service Centre personnel tell us that SAPS will only react to crime incidents that occur and this means that they do not have the capacity and nor are they willing to prevent crime. If this is a true policy of SAPS Actonville then what is the difference between SAPS Actonville and Private Security Armed Response Companies as they too only react to incidents that have already occurred?”
“The points hereinabove is an accurate reflection of the whole of SAPS Actonville then SAPS Actonville is directly violating the SA Constitution Section 205 (3) The objects of the police service are to prevent, combat and investigate crime, to maintain public order, to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property and to uphold and enforce the law. It is self-evident that SAPS Actonville is conducting themselves in this manner means that they have violated the Constitutional Rights of all residents and visitors within the Actonville policing area.” This is a quote from the document sent to the local police commander.
Some other factors of why crime is such a huge problem are; The Men’s Hostel is within 100 metres from the Actonville Police Station yet it is within the Benoni Policing area. Many complaints have been received about this inconvenience to hostel residents. It is important that this matter is referred to the appropriate and competent authority for resolution. The Cluster Commander of the Police was also advised of this problem and yet he has taken no measures to remedy this problem. Adjoining the Actonville Hostel is a cemetery that is no longer used and residents are also frequently robbed in this area. People are robbed on a daily bases in Lancaster road area because of the geographical area and the conditions found there. It is also a very irritating situation for response times for the people of Actonville to wait for hours before SAPS arrives at a Crime Scene. These are some of the reasons and problems that caused residents and visitors to have lost confidence in SAPS Actonville and the Community Police Forum
The general response times of SAPS Actonville to incidents could range from anything between 1 hour and 6 hours and sometimes they simply do not respond to complaints. These response times have been happening and even in one particular incident it occurred on Friday 10 February 2017 and to this day SAPS have not responded to the matter. The CPF was also informed about this matter. In most reported cases residents have complained that the fingerprint personnel never arrive. This is very problematic as the crime scene is then contaminated by the residents and no proper investigation can then be conducted.
When complainants ask uniformed SAPS members what must they do about the fingerprints, as they have no other accommodation or place to live in. SAPS Actonville uniformed members say they do not know. When complainants also ask the SAPS members that if the fingerprint unit people only arrive the next day the crime scene will be contaminated – what will the finger print unit find in a contaminated crime scene. The SAPS members just shrugged their shoulders and said that they do not know.
Some Actonville residents said: “Our interactions with the CPF ‘S have not been of any assistance to us.” Residents were told that SAPS Actonville is doing their best and that residents must understand that. Residents were also told that SAPS Actonville does not have enough personnel or vehicles.”
Other resident’s subsequent interactions were also of no use to them, as various CPF representatives were informed about crimes and those CPF members, deliberately fed the residents with misinformation in that they will deal with the crimes together with SAPS Actonville. But nothing was done as the crimes continued. In particular crime that pertain to domestic violence dealing in drugs and illegal immigrants.
Residents of Actonville said that they are prepared to work with anyone within SAPS or any other entity where such person is honest, has integrity and is willing and able to listen to the needs of the community as regards crimes.
Personal security is a very serious matter and residents said that to vindicate this they undertook very extensive research and investigations into the following aspects. This investigation took more than two years.
They held several community meetings to discuss the crime problem and environmental factors that promote crime. They also discussed economic and social issues that may contribute to crime. They encouraged the community to support SAPS in Crime prevention activities. They met with religious leaders from all religious groupings. They reported and complained to the previous Station Commanders about the situation in Actonville. They also met with and held several meetings with Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department officials. They met with several detectives and requested that they reopen all dockets that were closed in Actonville as undetected. Dockets that relate to Murder, Culpable homicide, house breakings and theft out of motor vehicles were specifically requested.
The Actonville residents also met with and interacted with communities in Germiston, Boksburg, Kempton Park, Benoni, Springs, Brakpan, Nigel, Welkom, Phoenix, Chatsworth, Pietermaritzburg, Umtata, Bisho, Mdantsane, Soweto, Lenasia, Lenasia South, Ennerdale, Roshnee and Dawn Park. All these mentioned areas have similar problems.
One measure that the Actonville residents now embarked on is to involve the media as it is apparent to them that government is unwilling to deal with crime in the area.
Jerry Sing approached religious leaders from the Hindu, Muslim Community leaders. These leaders promised to act and support the community but no action has been taken.
Jerry Sing a community activist has been one of the people in the forefront of organizing this community and representing their demands to various authorities. Jerry Sing has since passed away the drug, human trafficking, corruption, incompetent SAPS and Metro Police still continues.
Actonville in Benoni is a town for any tourist to avoid visiting.
Want to find out more about addiction in South Africa – have a listen to these Podcasts