Lincoln Meade residents besieged by robbers

2010-06-03 00:00

THE recent spate of housebreakings in Lincoln Meade have sparked anger among residents, with some saying that the police aren’t doing enough to curb criminal activities in the area.

This follows the recent housebreaking at the home of Nomalungelo Radebe, daughter of Social Development MEC Meshack Radebe, last week.

Three men broke into Radebe’s house, holding her at gunpoint and robbing her of two laptops, three wrist- watches and other valuables.

A community watch member said that there have been seven house burglaries­ since January.

“I’m not sure about the past two months, but there has been an increase,” said the member.

At about 4 am on Sunday another house in the area was broken into and electric appliances were stolen.

Residents said that their lives have become a living hell in their own homes as thugs brazenly force their way in, mostly in the early hours of the morning, brandishing firearms and other weapons.

Recently, in the same area, Morner Kotze, from the Summerveld complex was robbed at gunpoint by two men who entered his home through a window and demanded money and valuables. On their way out the family sounded the alarm and neighbours responded.

The thugs fired two shots at the residents and got away. Kotze said that the ordeal has left his family severely traumatised.

He had since spent thousands of rands beefing up security at his home.

“The robbers left a home-made bush knife in the lounge. The fingerprint unit arrived, took fingerprints and told us to do whatever we want with the weapon. It was finally collected from us nine days later after numerous calls to the Alexander Police Station,” said Kotze.

“I don’t know how they will prosecute these robbers if they are caught. The firearm shells are said to be missing.

“We were told that the statement we made was not valid­, but it was never explained why. The SAPS is also refusing to use the bush knife as an evidence.

Etienne Dewing, one of the residents who responded to the Kotze’s alarm, said that the manner in which the police handled the scene was unprofessional.

“You don’t tamper with evidence at a crime scene. One of the officers said that since there was nobody injured, it didn’t matter­ if he removed the shells.

“There’s nothing one can do about the situation. All I want is to keep my family safe and go on with life,” said Dewing.

Another resident echoed Dewing’s sentiments, saying that it is poor service that makes people lose faith in the SAPS.

Police spokesperson Colonel Vincent Mdunge denied any SAPS wrongdoing at the Dewing home.

“The police acted swiftly and appropriately. What becomes critical is the relationship between the complainant and the investigating officer. Both these parties are [acting] for a good cause, but if there are issues of this nature arising by implication, they will jeopardise the relationship and the investigation.”

Mdunge said that if residents in the area want a police station, a formal proposal has to be made to the office of the provincial commissioner.

A work study will then follow to determine the feasibility of a police station and other details will have to be ironed out.

Residents have their say

by Bongani Hans

MICHELLE Dewing, whose husband Etienne was almost struck by a criminal’s bullet on May 20, said the residents of the Summerveld complex in Lincoln Meade where she lives, have become defenceless.

“We used to patrol the complex, but since these people [criminals] are now armed with firearms and knives we are unable to defend ourselves. We need the police to patrol the area. The public needs to be vigilant,” said Dewing.

An activist in the Lincoln Meade Neighbourhood Crime Watch said that crime has escalated in the past three months.

“When the neighbourhood watch was formed four years ago the crime rate began to drop. But in the past three months it has risen again. I don’t know why. To try to help solve the problem people should join the neigh-bourhood watch,” he said.

“About four weeks ago, at about 3 am, my husband and I were awakened by someone getting in through our burglar guards. When he entered the house he found our four big dogs and ran away,” said a resident, who only introduced herself as Mrs Swart.

“I moved in here 20 years ago. My family and another family were the only two Indian families in this area. We didn’t have a fence and were not bothered by criminals. That was before this government took over.

“This place has become very bad since then. There are too many housebreakings. We need 24-hour police patrol,” said another resident who preferred not to be named.

“Just 10 days ago some youngsters broke into three houses in one night.

“As they were running down the road with a DVD player and TV one of the residents tried to stop them, but they told him that he should go back into his house because they have a firearm.

“As they were running they fired two shots,” said another resident.

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