Last Friday evening, (Nov 19), will be remembered by many as one of Laudium’s darkest hours. It was around 18:30 when news surfaced on social media platforms, of an angry mob of about 70 residents from Itireleng, armed with stones and sticks, seen protesting at the corner of 19th Ave and Military Road, in Laudium, due to their area having no lights for 3 days. Despite the volatile situation, the mob then freely marched past the Laudium Police Station, all the way up to 19th Ave, onto the link road to Erasmia, stopping at the Cnr of Liesching and Barbara Coetzer Streets, with police afraid to intervene. Reports of the mob being violent, knocking down road signs and stoning some houses, surfaced. Strangely, the mob demanded that the then Councillor-Elect, Naeem Patel immediately present himself before them. What made the night dark, was the response from the community of Laudium and Erasmia. Whilst some were in genuine panic mode, fearing for their lives, as the mob toyi-toyi’d outside their homes, others sadly took advantage of the situation and sent out unwarranted, unsubstantiated messages fueling the situation, because of personal agendas and being supporters of opposing political parties. A so-called ‘anti-crime activist’, who does not even stay in the area, and who has a personal vendetta against Naeem, posted that Naeem refused to meet the mob and took refuge at the police station. This so called ‘activist’, not surprisingly, did not post that he was contacting his high ranking police contacts, demanding that they immediately send helicopters and police task teams to stop the aggression of the mob. He did not post that it was unacceptable for an armed mob to march into Laudium and Erasmia, and sow fear within the community, nor did he mention that the mob demanding, with threatening behaviour, an audience with Naeem, was unacceptable. For those who don’t know, despite Naeem being offered a place of safety in Jhb for the night, he refused the offer and chose to rather go to the police station and arranged to meet the mob there. However, police told him that they did not have the back-up should matters get out of hand and asked him to wait at the station, until reinforcements were brought in. Meanwhile, members of the ANC, together with former Councillor Essop, pacified the mob, which then dispersed. To all those mothers and sisters who posted on social media that Naeem should meet the mob and not risk the lives of the community, my question to you is, would you have sent your son or brother, if he was in Naeem’s place? That Friday night, as a community, including the peace-loving residents of Itireleng, we all should have stood united, irrespective of political affiliations and said to the mob, not in our neighbourhood. Let us as a community of Ward 61 be united and let us not be used by people who have personal agendas. The saviour of the night was certainly Naeem Patel, who, despite being encouraged by certain residents to meet the angry mob, with his safety being ‘guaranteed’ by them as they had enough ‘fire power’, refused to do so. Can you imagine what could have happened if Naeem met the mob and the matter got out of hand? There could have been a bloodbath. Thankfully, Naeem chose to rather involve the police, in order to resolve the matter peacefully.

 – Ahmed Tayob, resident.