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City residents play cat and mouse with police

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Efforts by the police, who patrolled the streets, to keep people indoors appeared largely ineffective.

“THE POLICE cannot force us to stay indoors when we have no choice but to walk into the veld when we need to relieve ourselves.”

These were the sentiments of the residents of Soekmekaar informal settlement, near Diamond Park, Greenpoint, on Tuesday.

As the police struggled to clear the streets of Greenpoint on Tuesday, many residents turned their attempts into a game of cat and mouse.

Efforts by the police, who patrolled the streets, to keep people indoors appeared largely ineffective.

Groups of mostly young men disappeared into their yards whenever they spotted a police vehicle, only to re-emerge onto the street as soon as the police rounded the corner.

Seemingly largely unconcerned about Covid-19, some residents were seen sitting in groups chatting and smoking oka pipes, either inside their yards or on the pavements.

It was mostly the men who preferred the warm outdoors, while women emerged from their houses largely out of curiosity about what the police were up to.

At one point, the police were forced to break up a group of men playing soccer in one of the area’s busiest streets.

While the police had their hands full with bored residents, the residents of Soekmekaar informal settlement were frustrated by attempts to access water from one of the JoJo tanks provided by the Department of Water and Sanitation.

The tank was placed flat on the ground and residents were forced to dig a hole in front of the tap to access the water.

A ward committee member, Derick Gous, said that residents had been made to feel like they had been done a big favour by being given the water tank.

“We had to come up with our own way of getting water out of the tank,” Gous said. “Why couldn’t stands have been provided to put the tanks on? It is evident that treating us with dignity is too much to ask for.”

The residents complained that the tanks were the only assistance they had received since the lockdown, pointing out that there are no toilets in the informal settlement. “We are forced to relieve ourselves in the overgrown veld or in the nearby graveyard.

“Even though we try our best to stay indoors, these patrolling police do not have the right to tell us to stay indoors when we have to walk into the nearest veld to relieve ourselves,” one resident pointed out.