15th Aug 2020 7:20:15 AM

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Malicious Damage To Fire Fighting Water Tank

Malicious damage to property and theft

Too much sadness.
While it is incredibly hard to make ends meet in poverty-laden recession-hit South Africa, the women bear the brunt of the problems. Too often they try to repair the mistakes of the men and these came to plead for clemency - but to withdraw charges would not bring the ringleader to book. Nor would it send a message to respect community property. Is justice unkind or is justice right?

Three troubled women from Joe Slovo came to talk at night on October 21st 2011 about the young men who had been arrested in relation to the water tank theft and damage.
We feel nothing but compassion for the women's difficult lives.
We referred them to the investigating officer at Brixton SAPS.

On 13th October 2011 our fire fighting water tank was damaged beyond repair in Joe Slovo squatter camp (also called Slovo Park), Johannesburg We suggested to the community that after about 14 years of helping them, we would pull out.
Instead of lifting the tank back onto its stand at the request of many residents, the thieves moved in.
Late afternoon on 14th October 2011, community elder Alice Mbanga informed the charity that part of the tank stand had been taken to scrap metal dealers on Perth Road, near Sophiatown Police Station.
Over a difficult hour or so, Mitta Lebaka, Bronwen Jones and Mrs Mbanga worked to track it down.
People simply lied, repeatedly.
We found half of the stand at 7 Perth Road, at a business run by several Cameroonian men.
One of the men had just returned from court, his bail receipt on a charge of receiving stolen property, tucked into his passport.
Despite describing the stand well, the men said that it was not there.
We told them that if they were prepared to be witness against the thieves, we might not lay a charge of receiving stolen goods.
When they switched into speaking French, they were surprised that we could understand.
We found the stolen property and called the police.
The SAPS response time was diabolically poor - at least one and a half hours as night was falling.
We waved down a Metro Police vehicle which logged a call to SAPS for help but still got no response.
We half-joked when Sophiatown SAPS finally arrived, that the time to rob a bank is clearly around police shift change time.
They responded that a local Checkers supermarket had recently had an armed robbery at exactly that time.

Slow learners?
Ultimately the flying squad took over the case. They came only after we had been in contact with the SAPS Provincial Commissioner's office.
We take a very dim view of people who attack charities, rob charities or try to negate their efforts.
Previously we made a Citizen's Arrest on a man trying to rip a radio from a volunteer's car at Slovo. He went to jail for three years.
We also carried out Citizen's Arrest on street teens who robbed a female volunteer of her cell phone in Auckland Park.
Sgt Chetty from the flying squad handled the tank theft matter courteously and proactively, which is more than can be said for the four male police constables from Brixton who'd attended the scene at the squatter camp the previous day. Time will tell as to whether arrests will be made and the matter successfully tried in court.

This material is Copyright The Dorah Mokoena Charitable Trust and/or Children of Fire , 1998-2020.
Distribution or re-transmission of this material, excluding the Schools' Guide, is expressly forbidden without prior permission of the Trust.
For further information, email firechildren@icon.co.za