Pretoria - Police in Atteridgeville need to act urgently to root out a gang robbing and terrorising women and girls or face total shutdown of the township, residents warned on Friday.
Angry Atteridgeville residents blocked roads and burnt tyres on Friday morning saying the police station has officers who allegedly enabled the gang that has been terrorising people by receiving bribes and cultivating a culture of being friendly with criminals.
They called on authorities to eradicate the problems before people lost their lives.
The men in the community said they were protecting their women and children from the gang that travelled in a taxi, robbing without consequence or any noticeable action from the police.
Atteridgeville Police Station Commander Brigadier Mbangwa Nkhwashu said the police were aware that there were some corruption elements within the force.
Addressing frustrated residents, Nkhwashu said: "I know and I acknowledge that some of my police members are corrupt. However, I also want to mention that the police are servants of the community.
"The police cannot be corrupt if there are no corruptees. The people that are corrupting my police are also equally to blame.
"For that reason I am here on my knees pleading with the community that are corrupting my police officers (to stop as well), because the police are not forcing you to take the money out. If they are forcing you they are committing a crime."
Leaders of the Atteridgeville Saulsville Taxi Owners Association immediately distanced themselves from the gang, assuring the people and the community that they may have travelled in a taxi but they must not be confused with their members.
The association promised to work together with the police and community to see that these criminals are brought to book and not allowed to feel comfortable in the township.
Community leader Mpho Moropane said the community realised three months ago that there was this gang targeting women and girl children and they decided to declare the situation a state of emergency.
"We have gathered because we want to eradicate these terrorist forces from the community. This is not an allegation, it is happening. We see these things and that is why even the station commander acknowledged."
The community handed the station a memorandum, also demanding that they must have an independent community committee within the station.