Cops in pursuit of robbers

2008-07-24 00:00

What was meant to be a search- and-seizure operation targeting stolen goods in Lincoln Meade yesterday, turned into a frantic chase after criminals who had robbed a simplex in the area.

Initially members of the Lincoln Meade Community Watch and Crime Prevention Unit had gathered at midday. They were about to begin random visits to houses believed to be occupied by criminals. But an emergency call came through and changed their plans.

A home in the Terrance complex was robbed at noon. Two criminals, who had apparently been watching the movement of their unsuspecting target, jumped over the concrete fence and entered the Dlamini house. The fence separates the complex from a farm. They assaulted domestic worker Winniefrieda Phewa before making off with a TV set.

“I was just going out of the kitchen door to hang up the washing when one man pushed me back into the kitchen. I tried to fight him off … I screamed and he blocked my mouth with his hand before punching me on the mouth,” said Phewa.

She said a second man went straight to disconnect the TV. Then her attacker ran out and jumped over the fence, and the second man handed him the TV.

A neighbour who heard Phewa’s scream and saw her desperately waving out of the window for help ran to call the police.

Members of the Crime Prevention Unit and Community Watch swiftly moved to the crime scene.

Shortly, more police officers arrived and climbed over the fence into the farm to search for the suspects. An officer saw one suspect hiding in a hole and ordered him to come out and surrender.

The criminal stayed put, and the dog unit arrived. Police were unable to pull him out as there was thick bush covering the hole. But the criminal mysteriously disappeared and police suspected that he had moved deeper into the hole. Police dogs Spike and Duncan went in, but failed to pick up the scent of the criminal.

When homeowner Sbongile Dlamini arrived she commented: “At last they got me”.

Dlamini, who works for the Justice Department, said she had seen suspicious-looking strangers on the other side of the concrete fence on a number of occasions.

“On June 15 I went to greet one of them, but … he just ran away. A week later my neighbour’s house was broken into, but they didn’t take anything because the alarm went off,” said Dlamini.

Her neighbour said criminals steal from the houses and hide the goods on the farm. He said that during the night they come in metered taxis to collect the goods. This was confirmed by police officers and neighbourhood crime watch member Wayne Janneker.

“At one point we had to stop suspicious taxis from coming into the area,” said Janneker.

The Witness learnt that in the same area a vehicle was hijacked soon after the Dlamini incident.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said no one was arrested in connection with the Dlamini incident. He could not confirm the hijacking.

bhans@witness.co.za

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