Repeated break-ins kill off two businesses

2010-07-20 00:00

TWO Pietermaritzburg businessmen are packing up in preparation to closing down their businesses after suffering about 40 crime attacks in the past four years.

Kelvin Pirie (69), who runs Waste Control in Pentrich near Westgate, and his 71-year-old tenant, Dennis Meadows, a welder, said they have had enough of crime.

The businessman said the last straw was when he and his staff arrived at work yesterday to find that there had been another burglary, which cost him and Meadows almost all their tools — vital to run their businesses.

Pirie, whose company buys old scrap metal, cardboard, paper, cans and bottles for recycling, has a long a list of case numbers dating back to 2003. The cases include armed robberies.

He said he is not aware of any arrests.

“I‘m not putting up with this any more. I have to go and live somewhere else,” said a fuming Pirie. He has been running the business for the past 18 years.

Pirie’s six employees will be out of work when he closes down.

He said that this weekend, criminals broke into the workshop and stole two welding machines, a compressor, four angle grinders, three electric drills and a boxfull of other tools. He said the stolen items amount to about R15 000.

Last year criminals got into the Waste Control workshop and got away with 22 items, including a radio and heavy-duty tools. Pirie’s photocopier was also stolen and he depends on a neighbouring company for fax and photocopying services.

The business does no longer an alarm system — that was also stolen during one of the burglaries.

Most of the windows around the building have been covered with steel sheets to prevent criminals from breaking in.

“When they came in during the weekend they broke my concrete fence. They also pulled my electricity cables away, apparently to sell the copper,” Pirie said.

“I can no longer afford to install more security measures and am employing a security guard because I have lost lots of business as a result of crime.”

Meadows, who is a pensioner was also angry. He said he is packing up and aims to move out of the workshop on Friday. His big toolbox is almost empty after the robberies.

“I have four employees, who will definitely be left without an income when I leave. I rent here and I cannot take it anymore. Friday will be my last day here,” Meadows said.

Meadows’s employee, Sipho Coat (41) of Slangspruit, said he has been working for two years.

He is also disappointed that crime has cost him the means to support his family. He lives with his two children, aged 17 and 14, and an unemployed wife.

Coat said Meadows employed him when he came to Waste Control to sell bottles and cans.

“Now I’m going back to selling bottles and cans to make a living,” he added.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan confirmed a case of burglary was opened yesterday.

She said no one has been arrested since the weekend break-in or in connection with an armed robbery at the company in 2003.

Jeevan said she is still making inquiries about the other cases.

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