POLICE officers are operating shebeens in Mangwe District which have been blamed for fuelling criminal activities within mining areas, the newly appointed Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Cde Obedingwa Mguni has said.
Cde Mguni, who is also the MP for Mangwe where the shebeens are located, said it had come to his attention that some of the police officers in the area had contracted workers to operate illegal businesses while they carried out their official duties.
He said this explained why the operations had persisted for several years without being stopped.
“There are a lot of illegal activities in squatter camps which are in the mining areas such as prostitution and liquor is being delivered in the middle of the night. A number of locals have lost their livestock to thieves who later sell the meat from their shacks,” said the deputy minister.
“I expect the police to bring these illegal activities to a halt as they are causing moral degradation in the community. If police are involved as it has come to my attention that some of the shebeens are owned by them they should stop immediately as such corruption will not be accepted.”
He said Mangwe Rural District Council had to stop collecting rates from the squatters until they start operating from proper structures. Cde Mguni implored the police to conduct effective patrols in mining areas mostly at night to curb illegal activities.
“We can’t have an illegal structure which is a threat to the community within the district. The squatter camps are an improper location for business purposes. Traditional leaders have come to me complaining about these activities on several occasions,” he said.
Headman Pahlana from Mphoengs said a number of young girls were engaging in prostitution in the shebeens.
“These people have been there for a long time and it will take more than an announcement to move them as they’ll always remain there. They seem to be recording good business from their illegal activities which explains why they don’t want to relocate,” said Headman Pahlana.
Police officers recently held a meeting with over 200 squatters who are operating in shacks in the area informing them to cease their operations.
The squatters had been given an ultimatum to relocate by yesterday, but no evictions were carried out. Illegal settlers are operating brothels, shebeens and other illicit businesses which have attracted a number of mine workers and villagers.
Villagers have raised concern over high numbers of assault and stock theft cases which are allegedly perpetrated by the squatters. The councillor of Mphoengs, Norman Tshuma said villagers living close to the mining areas were losing their goats on a daily basis to the squatters.
He said the illegal settlers were stealing the goats and then selling them in their butcheries which they had opened in the shacks. chronicle