‘Enough is enough’

2008-03-07 00:00

HUNDREDS of angry Hillcrest residents bayed for the blood of five rape suspects outside the Hillcrest Police Station yesterday.

Initially, the crowd staged a protest outside the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court where the suspects were due to appear for the rape of a young Kloof woman.

Seven men accosted Jessica Foord and her father at a nearby dam on Sunday and repeatedly raped her in a field. The Foords had been walking their dogs when they were attacked.

Five suspects were arrested on Wednesday after intense investigations.

The suspects were due for their first court appearance yesterday, but police found out about the planned protest and brought the suspects to court on Thursday.

Lindani Maphumulo, Thabani Ntinga, Siyabonga Ntinga, Mbotho Msomi and Nthuthuko Chili were denied bail and were remanded into custody at Durban’s Westville Prison until their next court appearance on March 20.

This “deception” further angered protestors, many of whom had taken time off work and school to attend the protest.

It is believed that protestors were also riled by the rape of a six-year-old girl in the area.

Fed up with the high crime rate in the area, residents then moved to Hillcrest Police Station, where they demanded to see the suspects.

Residents moved to the area just outside the station’s holding cells and shouted threats at the five suspects inside. Foord’s relatives were among the protestors.

Private investigator Brad Nathanson, who was instrumental in tracking down the suspects, said that community members contacted him shortly after the rape to help in the investigation.

“I was told that there wasn’t a lot of money lying around, so I took on the job free of charge. I started work immediately,” he said.

He said he went to the crime scene and recovered a vital piece of information that the police had missed.

“The next day, I took Jessica and her father to the dam to point out the crime scene. I also put out some money to my informers and waited for information,” he said.

Two of Nathanson’s informers came back with a suspect’s name.

“They both came back with the same name, which was our hot lead. It took us six hours to track the suspect down. He then pointed out the suspects,” he added.

He said that the community banded together to support his team during the investigation.

“I’m very proud at what we achieved. The community was a great help to us,” he said.

Hillcrest resident Michelle Blanckenberg said the rape had shocked the community into taking action against the increase of crime in the area.

She said the area where the rape occurred was a popular spot for families.

“Enough is enough. It is unacceptable and time we stood up against these rapes. It’s amazing how people have come together to express their anger about the crime,” she said.

Another, Christina Dubazama from Wyebank, said she lost faith in the local police after her daughter’s rapists were granted bail. Dubazama’s eight-year-old daughter and grandmother were gang-raped in August last year; their attackers paid their bail and were released.

“I know what that girl is going through. The men who attacked my family are out there waiting to rape more women. Something needs to be done,” she said.

Overcome with emotion, she said that she hoped that government brought back the death penalty for those who raped and killed. “I’m tired of all this. Our children are suffering. The powers that be should wake and see that there is a problem with crime in this country,” she said.

Everton resident Sally van den Berg said parents were terrified to let their children play outside.

“People are terrified after the incident. Our local police don’t help. We gave them information and nothing was done,” she said.

Ernest Khumalo from Molweni said police failed the community when it came to responding to calls about crime. “They are not helpful. We have to wait for hours … We are fed up with the crime situation now,” he said.

Police spokeswoman Danelia Veldhuizen said that police were still searching for two suspects who are still on the run.

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