Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Like a destructive wave, the social unrest in July swept through Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. However, unlike several other towns and cities, Newcastle escaped the onslaught relatively unscathed, thanks to the overwhelming, responsive support from the community.
Speaking to Rajesh Ramdhaw, chairperson of the Community Policing Forum (CPF), the Newcastillian – Online News, being an independent news agency, uplifting and informing various communities throughout the Northern KwaZulu-Natal and KwaZulu-Natal areas—we highlight the heroes in the Newcastle community, who would not surrender the town to criminality.
Ramdhaw begins by saying, “It was amazing, when the social unrest began, spreading throughout KZN, the Newcastle community came out in numbers, people of all race groups, to protect the city of Newcastle and their families.” The desire to protect the town was amplified, he explains, when Madadeni, Osizweni, and Blaauwbosch were affected by the upheaval, resulting in several stores, factories, and other businesses looted, vandalised or destroyed by the looters.
“Due to the constraints faced by the Newcastle Police Station, the community together with the CPF extended their support to the local law enforcement,” he states. This, in turn, led to meetings between community leaders, the CPF, both the Taiwanese and Chinese Business Chambers, security companies, Newcastle Crime Fighting Team, Newcastle Municipality’s Protection Services and SAPS, seeing plans created and implemented.
Six checkpoints at the entrances of Newcastle were then strategically established and protected by police officers, security companies and community members. “The fact that people came out in numbers, with their vehicles, deterred the criminals.” Such was the response that on 12 July 2021, information was received that Newcastle Mall would be attacked, but the perpetrators were rapidly stopped.
While various checkpoints were established, patrols were also done in the residential areas, with the police conducting stop and search operations after curfew, with the support of the CPF. During the stop and search operations, Ramdhaw highlights, “A number of stolen items and alcohol was recovered. I just want to say, we all had a good relationship with the police and its leadership.”
While a sense of calm has now prevailed over Newcastle, largely thanks to the cooperation between the community, the CPF, SAPS, and security companies, the time has come to thank those who protected our town.
Ramdhaw says he applauds the community for their efforts, especially as they endured bitterly cold nights and participated at their own cost.
In addition, he says, “It was also amazing how some garages saved fuel for the police, CPF, and community members who participated in the patrols.”
These fuelling stations are:
- Caltex in Lennoxton
- Total on Murchison
- Murchison Street Motors
Then there are the businesses that extended their trading hours for police, CPF members and volunteers so that they could get their groceries in-between the chaos. These businesses are North City and Devland Impuphu Wholesalers.
In addition, the Taiwanese Chamber pledged close to R200 000 to combatting crime in Newcastle, according to Ramdhaw. According to Ramdhaw, these monies were pledged to Morne Potgieter of Ithemba Security and will be pumped into local law enforcement to purchase bulletproof vests and other necessary equipment to safeguard Newcastle. He also said, “We also want to acknowledge and show appreciation to all those who donated firewood, meals, and refreshments to the crime fighters over the two weeks who stood guard.”
Furthermore, Ramdhaw stressed it was also essential to applaud the residents of Siyahlala Informal Settlement. “Although they were enticed to participate, none of them took part in the looting.”
Therefore, with the above in mind, a special thanks goes to all the security companies who rushed in to support the SAPS, CPF and community. These companies include Magenta Security, Ithemba Security, Votella security, Two Eagles Security, Barnard Security, to mention but a few.
Additionally, TRIVS Medical Services – Private Ambulance, was thanked for their service.
A further thanks go out to the teams who stood at the following checkpoints:
- The Memel entrance.
- Allen Street entrance by the Pines.
- The Allen Street and Drakensberg Drive Intersection.
- Albert Wessels Drive at the Abattoir.
- Albert Wessels Drive near the N11.
- The N11 Hilldrop entrance.
- Newcastle Mall at the main entrance on Allen Street.
- The Oak Street entrance at the Newcastle Mall.
- Scott Street in the Newcastle CBD.
- The four points in Fairleigh.
- The three teams in Boundary Road, which covered the top, middle, and bottom of the long stretch of road.
- The five points in Paradise
Ramdhaw adds that what touched him during the whole operation was that there were no racial tension and people worked together to benefit their community, acting as one.
With this in mind, he concludes that he would like to see this sense of camaraderie continue between the Newcastle community, as the town belongs to us all.
Well done to all those involved in keeping Newcastle safe. Your efforts have been seen, and your actions will be remembered.
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