‘Police are to blame’

2009-11-03 00:00

A DISILLUSIONED businessman has blamed the police for the high rate of crime in an industrial area in Pietermaritzburg after losing millions to crime over the years.

Tedd Govender, owner of Tedd Textile Material Supplies in Wigford Road near Imbali township, said crime is hampering business in the area.

Cable thieves broke into his factory on Sunday night for the second time in one month and stole high-voltage electric cables resulting in a complete halt of production.

Six cable thieves entered the property, held the security guard at gunpoint and took his firearm. He was allegedly assaulted and his hands and legs were bound with shoe laces, after which the men entered the factory building and cut the cables. Some cables were left lying on the floor inside the factory. Govender said the incident is a huge setback for a thriving business.

“It will take us about two weeks to replace the cables and will cost R1 million in production.”

A total of 21 employees will lose their wages over the two weeks.

“My employees are the ones who will suffer most. They look forward to overtime; now they will be losing even their basic wage.”

Govender said his business has lost more than R5 million in production and repairs. “I am offering a reward of R2 000 to anyone who can give information that may help to bring these criminals to book.

“In the past three years I have had more than five break-ins here, but no investigations were done. In February 2007, about R400 000 of stock was stolen and, in the second break-in, tools and computers were stolen. Just last month, on October 4, they broke in and stole cables as well, and I believe it’s the same people because they use the same modus operandi; they come in through the same place.”

Govender is considering relocating his business to a safer place, but he said he is concerned about the effect this will have on his staff.

“Insurance companies have refused to insure my business because they say this is a high-risk area. It’s the responsibility of the police to provide safety and security, but we are not getting any cooperation from the police. If I relocate, my staff would have to travel longer distances to work, while this is closer to the township.”

He said relocating his business would cost him between R2 and R3 million.

“The most frustrating part is that the police are doing nothing. Last month, the police could not come when we called to report the break-in, as they said there were no vehicles. This time we called at 6 am, but they arrived here at 8.30 am.”

While The Witness was conducting the interview, a student constable approached Govender and asked him to sign some documents. Govender said; “You smell of alcohol and you are taking statements.”

“No … it’s from yesterday; I drank a lot yesterday …” said the officer, whose name is known to The Witness.

New Force Security services owner Derrick Potgieter confirmed that there were two break-ins in less than 30 days at the factory. He said he was concerned about the safety of his guards at the site. “They cut a hole in the fence at the back of the building and then they overpowered the guard … I am considering leaving this site. It’s not worth losing people’s lives …”

Potgieter said the guard on duty told him the burglars wanted to hijack his car and use it to transport the cables. “The guard said they asked him what time I would come to check him and they waited for me at the gate.”

The suspects left at about 4 am. Potgieter had not arrived.

SAPS spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan said police are investigating the burglary. Responding to questions about the officer who smelled of alcohol, Jeevan said: “The SAPS does not condone any misconduct of its members. On completion of [an] investigation, the member will face disciplinary action.”

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