Communicare says Maitland police officers are failing to protect residents of its social-housing complex in Brooklyn from illegal occupants.
The non-profit company appeared in the Western Cape High Court on Friday March 19, seeking a spoliation order to remove 40 illegal occupants from the Goedehoop complex.
The case was postponed to Thursday April 29 to give the occupiers time to submit a letter to Communicare, stating when they planned to move, says Communicare CEO Anthea Houston. She says the court also ordered Maitland police to explain in writing why they did not take action against the illegal occupants.
Communicare says several dozen men and women clashed with security guards at the complex on Friday March 12 and two guards were hit on their heads with bricks. Police stood by and did nothing, Communicare claims, as bins were burnt, doors of paying tenants were broken, cars were damaged, tenants were threatened and a woman in her 80s was beaten over her legs.
Ms Houston said the complex’s residents had then called Maitland police on Saturday March 20 after two men had refused entry to two newly appointed security guards and had threatened to assault them.
Instead the police had turned on the Communicare staff and security guards and had threatened to arrest them if they did not “negotiate” with trespassers, she said.
She had called Maitland police station to report the policemen’s threats and, after being put on hold for nearly 30 minutes, had been told to come to the police station to give an explanation before assistance could be sent, she said.
“I cannot believe that police are abusing their power like this; they must be brought to book,” she said.
She emailed the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) for help on Monday March 15 and again on Monday March 22 but got no reply.
Ms Houston said Communicare received frequent emails, messages and phone calls from Goedehoop residents who were scared and felt abandoned and threatened. However, the police were refusing to help, despite Communicare having identified the perpetrators.
“Two men from the complex are the ones adding fuel to the fire here,” she said.
She said Maitland police had refused to take statements from her on both Friday March 12 and again on Saturday March 20.
Ward 55 Councillor Fabian Ah-Sing said he would put pressure on police to protect the legal tenants and encourage them to do random patrols and stops at the complex.
IPID spokeswoman Ndileka Cola said they were not aware of the accusations made against Maitland police and had received no formal complaint.
“We have no email from Communicare on our record,” she said.
Tabletalk sent her copies of the emails Communicare sent to IPID’s complaints department but she did not respond by deadline.
Maitland police spokeswoman Constable Sandiswa Saula denied that police officers had told Communicare to “negotiate” with trespassers at the complex.
She also denied that Communicare wanted to press charges or complaints about the illegal occupants at the complex.
“No threats, or lives of the elderly being threatened was reported to the police. Not before or during this month,” she said.
She said police had been called to the complex just after noon on Saturday March 20.
They were only there to prevent a fight between security guards and two men, she said, adding that no arrests had been made.