‘Protest was gang led’

A crowd gathers outside the house of a man accused of raping an eight-year-old girl.

Mitchell’s Plain police station commander Brigadier Cass Goolam has called the public violence in Tafelsig last Tuesday, January 29, “opportunistic”.

He said gangsters were the instigators of stone-throwing and riling the community up to protest outside the house where an alleged rapist was holed up.

Brigadier Goolam said these gangsters forced the police to open fire to disperse the crowd.

He said the public violence incident was not a protest but rather gangsters dictating to the police how to act in terms of the law.

“As SAPS we are guided by legislation, not protest,” he said.

Brigadier Goolam said gangs of Tafelsig seized the opportunity to draw attention to themselves and hold the community hostage by closing some roads.

“It is quite disturbing that they pushed women and children to the front and sent messages via social media spreading rumours that the police were shooting sharp ammunition and killing children whereas it was obvious that the gang elements in the community were the ones firing live rounds,” he said.

Brigadier Goolam said if children are caught throwing stones, they would be taken to the police station and kept so that their parents could be prosecuted and forced to be held accountable.

The police took the 52-year-old man accused of raping an eight-year-old girl into custody on the same night of the public violence. He appeared in the Mitchell’s Plain Magistrate’s Court on Monday February 4.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is investigating the firing of a police officer’s gun on the same night after a 15-year-old boy was shot in the leg and a five-year-old boy had a flesh wound to the head.

Ipid spokesman Moses Dlamini called on witnesses of the shooting to come forward.

He said the concluded investigation would include medical reports, testimonies of the public and the police.

Anyone with information can call Ipid’s Cape Town office on 021 941 4800.