From today, the Amaberet will be making its presence in the community of Westbury, Johannesburg, which has been at the centre of violent protests since the death of a mother who was shot in a gang-related shooting last Thursday.
Her daughter was also injured in the crossfire.
Police Minister Bheki Cele addressed an irate crowd at the Westbury Open Grounds today.
They have been calling for provincial authorities to take action against the high levels of crime and alleged corrupt policemen whom they say are working with drug lords and gangsters in the area.
The Tactical Response Team (TRT) or AmaBeret is a specialised task team of the South African Police Service, which works as a supportive function.
Cele has deployed them to Westbury to assist the police force in helping to fight and manage the high levels of crime in the area.
“That unit is not the anti-gangster [unit], but is a TRT, AmaBeret, they’ll be here to join already the team of 12 that is here. We’ll add to patrolling your streets and take all gangsters, wherever they [are], try to be hard on them,” Cele said.
Cele also said that the police would be working hard to tackle drugs and gangsterism in the area, and that the anti-corruption unit would be chasing the druglords.
On Monday night, a Rea Vaya bus station was torched, and by Tuesday morning, only the burnt structure remained.
Residents addressed Cele on the lack of intervention from the police, and how they had been trying for years to get government intervention.
Racial tensions were also raised, with many saying that the coloured community in Westbury was sidelined by the government.
In response to Cele’s promises, a resident said that it came down to equal representation.
“It sounds good, but needs to change the representation of cops at police stations and at the clinics with equal representation of white and coloured people. We need jobs. It’s about representation,” the resident said.
In a highly emotional plea, a young lady literally knelt at the feet of Cele as she begged him to institute harsher laws to combat the scourge of criminal activity.
“The answer should be to cut off a rapist’s penis, or to cut off the hands of a murderer,” she said.
In response to the girl’s plea, Cele said that he himself had children and that he felt her cries as a parent.
“If you are a parent and do not feel from that, if you can’t sympathise with that, I don’t know. I want to say I have heard what this young lady has said, and we will act,” he said.
On Monday, eight protesters were arrested, and the community called for their release.
Cele said that he could not intervene in getting them released, because it was a matter of justice, and that he would be calling on Justice Minister Michael Masutha to pay Westbury a visit to address the matter with the community directly.