Passers-by refuse to help catch robbers

2008-06-05 00:00

Pietermaritzburg businesses have been hit by a string of armed robberies over the past few months, with latest victims being young business owners who were held up at knife point before being robbed of computers containing vital business information yesterday.

Mfenendala Communications co-owner Sniko Novukela (25) said he is still puzzled about the robbery and the response from city pedestrians and taxi commuters who refused to help him catch the robbers.

He said pedestrians at Freedom Square ignored his plea after he chased the robbers from Chapel Street.

Novukela said the criminals, who attacked the business’s receptionist at about 11 am, made off with two laptops containing information.

“I was in the back office with my partner Amanda Xaba when two guys came in. One of them asked for water from our receptionist, Lindiwe Luthuli, while another one inquired if someone was working for us,” said Novukela.

The “thirsty” man then held Luthuli at knifepoint and grabbed her cellphone, while the other grabbed two laptops.

“I heard our receptionist screaming, and I came out. I grabbed the one with laptops, but I let go of him when another one confronted me with the knife. They both ran across Chapel Street to board a taxi. I ran after them, but returned to the office to get my car to follow the taxi,” he said.

At Freedom Square, Novukela confronted the men in the taxi. He pleaded with commuters to help catch them, but they ignored him. The driver told him to move away because he was in a hurry.

“I held on to the taxi refusing to allow the conductor to close the door. The two criminals jumped out and ran across the square toward Professor Sibusiso Nyembezi Building [in Church Street]. I ran behind them while pleading with people to catch them, but they disappeared,” said Novukela.

The Witness has learnt that there have been other robberies in the same area, with most of them targeting businesses in Church Street Mall such as Identity fashion shop on Monday, Wimpy and Adams Bookshop in March.

bhans@witness.co.za

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