It was indeed a very sad day this past Wednesday (March 15) when the Laudium Police arrested Ward 61 Councillor, Naeem Patel, and two members of the CPF, for apparently accosting a self-confessed electricity meter thief. What makes the arrests so questionable, is that it seems certain police officials were taking revenge on the Cllr and the CPF, as they constantly question poor police service and complain about the unprofessional conduct of certain police officials.

According to information received by the Laudium Sun, it is alleged that…

  • The Investigating Officer was instructed by the Station Commander that the arrests should be made in the late afternoon (so as to make bail application difficult), thus hoping to keep the three overnight in police cells.
  • The Station Commander had written in red pen in the docket, that the detective on call should object for bail to be given to the trio.
  • The intention of a detective to allow the trio to first give a response (warning) statement, which was then to be submitted to the Public Prosecutor for a decision to prosecute or not, before the arrest, was overruled by a uniformed police official, who was in constant touch with a resident.
  • Instructions were given that the arrests should be made after the Councillor and the CPF had sorted out the aftermath of the uprising that took place on Tuesday.
  • The thief in the electricity meter saga was “forced” by police to lay serious charges against CPF members and the Councillor, so that they could be arrested and denied police bail.
  • The charge of kidnapping was withdrawn by the Prosecutor on call and for some reason, after receiving a call from an unknown person, it was reinstated.
  • One of the detectives involved in the case, kept on receiving calls from unknown sources, apparently instructing him not to support the bail application.
  • An attorney representing the trio was denied access to speak to them.
  • Although the meter thief gave police the name of the scrap metal dealer in Laudium, who he sold the copper components from the meters to, police have not yet arrested the dealer. Bail of R1000 each was finally given to the Cllr & 2 CPF members at around midnight, seven hours later, after intervention from certain community role players to higher authorities.

Are our police rotten to the core… fighting those fighting crime instead of the rotten criminals?

With crime continuing unabated in the Laudium area and the local police seemingly making very little progress in the fight against crime, more and more residents believe that some of the very police officials, who have taken an oath to serve and protect the community, are in fact the ones who are not only protecting the criminals, but working with these very criminals in advancing their devious plot to continue attacking residents and their properties.

This week’s shocking arrest of the Ward 61 Councillor and two CPF members, for merely trying to make Laudium a safer place to live in, has reinforced the suspicions many in the community have, that indeed there are some corrupt police members working at the Laudium Police Station. As news went viral of the arrest of Ward Councillor, Naeem Patel and two members of the CPF, Paul Bennet and Zahid Chohan, this past Wednesday (March 15), hundreds of residents gathered at the Laudium Police Station, demanding their immediate release. The three were arrested, late afternoon, at around 5pm, just after the courts closed for the day, thus were unable to easily obtain immediate bail. The trio was charged for serious offences… kidnapping, pointing a firearm, assault, GBH and the theft of a celllphone.

Their arrest follows a number of complaints from residents concerning the spate of thefts of Council installed electricity and water meters, causing days of darkness and much inconvenience to the affected residents. Despite pleas to the police to be more pro-active, including increasing patrols, surveillance and searches, especially during loadshedding time and during the late nights, to catch the culprits involved, the thefts of these meters continued on an almost daily basis, mostly during loadshedding time, which has also been reported, numerous times, in the Laudium Sun.

In order to play a meaningful role in fighting crime, and especially to stop the thefts of these electricity meters, members of the Laudium CPF decided to sacrifice their time and patrol the streets of Laudium during late nights when loadshedding is implemented in the area. The CPF also invited Cllr Naeem Patel to join them in their patrols, as the theft of the meters was of concern to the Councillor as well, due to his office often being inundated with complaints from residents, waiting for the stolen meters to be replaced by Council. This past Sunday morning (March 12), in the early hours at around 1:30am, a few cars with CPF members together with Naeem, were patrolling the area, when they received a WhatsApp alert from one of the community groups of a suspect seen by a home owner, outside her house on Taj Street. Upon arrival, it was discovered that the electricity meter had been stripped from the outside electric box. The patrolling vehicles immediately started a search for the suspect. A call was then made by a CPF member, Jay Chinsamy, to other CPF members in other patrolling cars, that the suspect was apprehended near the said Taj Street home, by amongst others, the son-in-law of the owner of the house and that an electricity meter and a plier was found. By the time other CPF members together with Naeem arrived, they found the suspect being tackled by the community.

These are the comments that followed…

Paul Bennet…

Paul Bennet, a CPF member who arrived later with Naeem at the scene on Taj Steet, and one of the three who was arrested, explained further to the Laudium Sun, “When we got to the scene, we found a number of cars parked on the street and then saw some community members who were angry because of all this crime, accosting the suspect. We were than told that the suspect had confessed to ripping off an electricity meter from a nearby home on Taj Street. We explained to the residents there that they should not take the law into their own hands and rather let us call the police to arrest him. Just then, we spotted a police patrol vehicle approaching, I think someone called the police. However, this patrol vehicle did not bother to stop, but instead slowly managed to pass by, in between the cars that were parked all over. They even looked towards the crowd that was with the suspect, but they just drove away. We, together with the Councillor, managed to pull the suspect away from the crowd and informed him that we were taking him to the police station. As we were taking him into one of the cars, the suspect started pleading with us not to take him to the police, saying that he needed help from the community. He said that he was only stealing these meters to get some money to buy food for his children. He even told us that he needed help due to his drug problem. That is when we, with the Councillor, calmed him down and told him that we would first take him to the Councillor’s office at the Civic Center to talk further. I was totally surprised when the police arrested us. I believe that certain people in the community, who are involved in crime together with certain corrupt police officials, are behind our arrest. There was no justification in arresting us. Also, if the police found it necessary to charge us, they could have just told us to come in the morning and process the formalities they needed to do, in order to charge us. Why did they arrest us late in the afternoon knowing that the courts were closed for bail?”

Cllr Naeem Patel…

“A lot of residents from the community have unfortunately lost confidence in our local police. It is clear to me that there are certain rotten police officials at the Laudium Police Station, who are not comfortable with myself and the CPF, under the chair of Shaheen Wahab, as we are asking a lot of questions concerning crime in the area. I attend these CPF meetings as ex-officio, in my capacity as Ward Councillor. There are so many complaints that we receive from the community against the police, including their investigating and visible policing units. We have also, at times, complained about our police to higher authorities, which clearly some of them did not like. It is disappointing that our local police lack the will to carry out regular pro-active policing operations, despite the high crime in the area. When we as volunteers go out doing patrols, almost each time we spot illegal activities, so why is it that our police vans patrolling the streets do not also see these illegal activities? I went out patrolling with the CPF this past weekend. The first night, Friday night, we patrolled the area from 10pm until 5am Saturday morning. One of the places we went to, was the Laudium Tennis Court area, as there were often complaints of hobos living illegally at the dilapidated clubhouse, which belongs to the Council. There, at around 1am on Saturday morning, we found a Coloured guy by the name of ‘Sheriff’ staying there. As we were talking to him, he mistakenly moved his mattress and in that we saw two firearms and a knife, which he could not account for. We immediately told him to move back and tried calling the Laudium Police, but there was no answer. That is when we realised that the Police Station is closed during loadshedding time. So one of the CPF members, Jay Chinsamy got into his car to go and call the police. When they came, we showed them the firearms still laying by the mattress. The police detained the suspect and took the firearms also. However, we heard soon thereafter that the police did not even charge the suspect and let him go almost immediately. On Saturday night I also went with the CPF patrollers, from about 10pm until about 12 noon on Sunday afternoon. It was around 1:30 am on Sunday morning, during loadshedding time when we got a message of another electricity meter theft on Taj Street. Whilst looking for the suspect we received a call that the suspect was apprehended by family members of the house affected and some community members. When we got to the scene there was already a crowd there. A police vehicle had soon thereafter arrived, but just slowly drove past instead of stopping. The suspect confessed that he stole the meter which was also found. We decided that it was best to take the suspect to the police station, instead of calling them as it was loadshedding time. However, the suspect pleaded with us not to take him to the police and promised to reveal everything to us, concerning the thefts of other meters also. He also said that he wanted help with his drug addiction problem and that he only stole in order to get some money to buy food for his children. So we decided to rather give him a chance to talk first and thus took him to our office. Not long thereafter, the suspect confessed that he had stolen at least 16 meters in a short space of time and upon daybreak, took us to a ditch behind the Council swimming pools, where he abandoned these meters, after stripping the copper coil in the meters, which he said he sold to a local merchant. Meanwhile, a number of residents, whose meters were stolen recently, heard about the suspect being at our office, and started coming there. The situation became volatile as some of them wanted to beat him up. I am not sure what happened after that as I had to leave for another matter. I was thus very surprised when I was arrested in this matter. I do not believe that I, at any stage, acted unlawfully. Instead at all times I was looking at the best interest of the community and my concern was also about the loss or damage of property of the Council.”

Cllr Naeem Patel was arrested on Wednesday after a self-confesed thief claimed that he was assaulted and kidnapped.

Shaheen Wahab…

The Laudium CPF Chair, told the Laudium Sun, “I was not there on Saturday night or early Sunday morning. However when I later heard of the suspect being at the office of the Councillor, I went there. The suspect confessed to me about his various crimes of theft of the meters and also gave a story of how he was battling to overcome his drug problem and at the same time was battling to find a job so that he could support his children. I arranged for him to be taken to the police as I believed it was not for us to say what should happen to him, as crimes were committed. I explained to him that he will have the opportunity to talk in court as to what led him to commit these crimes and that it was up to the magistrate to decide on sentencing. I am however very disappointed with the manner in which the police handled this case against the Councillor and two of our members. I did not see the need to arrest them. The police could have taken their warning statements and then sent the docket to the Public Prosecutor to make a final decision. Besides, I know of so many serious cases where suspects even beat up their wives and yet they are not arrested, but instead warned to appear in court after being charged. I was also surprised that amongst the charges against the three was the alleged theft of an expensive cellphone. I can confidently say that the suspect had only one cheap cellphone which he told me was his only cellphone, which I handed over to the police. Also surprisingly, when I met the suspect later in the week he told me that the police “forced” him to open a case against CPF members and the Councillor. It is clear to me that there is a vendetta by some police officials at the station against our CPF and the Councillor, because we keep on pressing them for answers concerning the crime in the area and we have complained many times of irregularities carried out by some of the police officers. We are kept in the dark with many things happening at the station, yet the police say that the CPF is a partnership between the community and themselves, in fighting crime. The service that our police gives to the community is unacceptably poor. I have experienced many incidents of this poor service. Just in the week, when there were riots taking place in Ext 3, I called the police many times including the Colonel (Station Commander). The response from the charge office was that they were waiting for the flying squad, before they could come out. Whilst the community was in fear and panic, these policemen just refused to come out. They only arrived an hour later. Our CPF has lodged many complaints against members of the station and it seems like certain of the police officials are now getting “gatvol” with us and are doing everything in their power to get back at us. We are considering our options as the CPF concerning the arrest of our members and the Councillor including referring this matter to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) for investigation.”

Laudium CPF Chair, Shaheen Wahab, said certain police officials at the Laudium Station were against the CPF and the Ward Councillor as,"We are not tolerating police incompetence."
Laudium CPF Chair, Shaheen Wahab, said certain police officials at the Laudium Station were against the CPF and the Ward Councillor as, “We are not tolerating police incompetence.”

*Cllr Patel and the two CPF members were finally released on bail of R1000 each at around midnight and are due to appear in court soon.

** Attempts to get a hold of the suspect, Carel Basson, in the electricity meter theft case, were unsuccessful. It is believed he was released on R500 bail. Carel later laid charges against Cllr Patel and two CPF members.

The suspect, Carel Basson of Himalaya Str, who lives in a garage, shows the area where he dumped the electricity meters he apparently stole after stripping the copper coils. Carel later laid charges against Cllr Patel and two CPF members, including charges of kidnapping.
The two firearms and knife that Cllr Patel and CPF members found in the possession of a Coloured male. Although the suspect was handed over to the police, he was released soon thereafter, without being charged.