Man pursues steel thief from cemetery and has him arrested

2014-07-23 00:00

AS the old adage goes, evil thrives when good men do nothing.

This must have been what Pietermaritzburg businessman Gary Ayliffe had in mind when he pursued a man who had stolen steel from a cemetery, all the way to the scrap yard where he was planning to dispose of it, and had him arrested.

Ayliffe said he was driving along Chief Albert Luthuli Road when he noticed a man coming out of the cemetery carrying old decorative metal that seemed to belong to the cemetery.

He said he followed the man and along the route contacted the police flying squad, who did not respond. Ayliffe said he encountered other police officers who were also not keen on attending to the matter as they were buying food at a convenience store at the time.

While driving along Church Street he saw two other police officers and briefly explained the situation to one officer and took his cellphone number down.

Ayliffe said he followed the man towards a scrap metal dealer in Berg Street, phoned the policemen and directed them to where he was. The officers arrived soon after and arrested the man in the scrap yard.

“We loaded the steel into my bakkie and took it to the police station … One of the detectives there recognised the man as he had been arrested previously for stealing scrap metal.”

Asked what motivated him to go out of his way to follow a thief, Ayliffe said: “I just wanted to do some good … It was my obligation.”

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said the 19-year-old man faces a charge of being in possession of stolen property.

The Witness recently reported on widespread theft at the cemetery, where tombstones have been damaged by thieves to access the metal at some graves.

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