A suburb under siege

2012-04-18 00:00

COPESVILLE is under siege from violent gangsters who are running amok, smashing down doors and robbing residents in broad daylight.

Crime in the suburb has become so bad that one household has started sleeping in shifts.

A suspected syndicate that gains entry by breaking down doors and sawing off burglar bars struck three times at the weekend.

Salvie Shaik said she had never witnessed this level of crime in the 20 years that she had lived there.

“My son and I take turns sleeping so we can make sure that someone is awake if they try to break in,” she told The Witness.

The three weekend attacks saw two pensioners terrorised, a two-year-old baby thrown to the ground, an attempt to kidnap a five-year-old and a panga attack on a 16-year-old.

In all the attacks the gang members forced their way into homes while the occupants were awake and screaming for help.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said police suspected a syndicate was operating in the area and a task team had been set up to deal with the situation.

No arrests have been made.

On Friday night intruders broke down a door with a crowbar, assaulted a pensioner and tried to kidnap a five-year-old.

“They beat up my mother, who is elderly, and they tried to take my child who is five years old,” said one distraught resident.

“My mother is so distraught that she has fled the area.”

Early on Saturday morning they bent a burglar guard door, broke a window and tried to kick in a door in another pensioner’s home.

The elderly woman told The Witness that she was saved because the door stood up to the battering.

“They were kicking the door and my grandchildren who live with me were all screaming, calling for help.

“One of them tried to grab me through the window they had broken,” said the elderly woman.

She said her grandchildren managed to call their stepfather who lives a few houses away, but the intruders ran away moments before he arrived.

She said they were now terrified.

“We now move furniture close to the door to try and prevent them from getting in.

“In all my years of living here, there have been break-ins before, but never had I come across criminals so stubborn,” she said.

Moments after the attack at the pensioner’s home the alleged syndicate raided another home just a few houses away.

They managed to gain entry after they cut the burglar bars and kicked in the door.

Once inside they terrorised the family, assaulted a teenager and ransacked the house.

A family member said her two-year-old child was abused.

“While they were going through the house my baby was sleeping on the bed and I thought they would leave her alone, but they picked her up and threw her to the floor.”

They were disturbed by the arrival of the police and fled, taking a DVD player.

The source said they were living in fear of the gang coming back.

“While we will be replacing the door, the attack has ruined our home, it’s no longer as nice to live there.”

Shaik said that her neighbour recently came home to find that her house had been broken into and her furniture, including a bedroom suite, had been stolen.

She called for more visible policing in the suburb.

“This area is very dark as there are only three street lights working.”

Jeevan said the crime problem in Copesville was a priority for the management at Mountain Rise police station.

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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