Waterfall residents tackle crime

2009-02-13 00:00

This weekend, Waterfall residents will start an intense intelligence-gathering project aimed at helping police tackle a crime wave in the area that is threatening to spiral out of control.

Brian Jones, spokesman for the Hillcrest-based SA Community Action Network (SA Can), said community leaders have identified a number of crime hotspots or danger zones. One is Waterfall, where there have been more than 120 incidents since November 2007.

Minor thefts graduated to house-breaking and then to hijackings and armed robberies. At the outset, almost every incident involved very little planning. “The guys just drove around and chose a house. Now it’s a matter of time before we are dealing with a murder,” Jones said.

He said that on Thursday night, a young woman was tied up and held at gunpoint while her flat was ransacked. Her mother, who had taken a sleeping tablet, slept through the entire incident. This was the second break-in through the same window since December 23.

The gang of between four and six started by removing patio furniture from an upstairs flat. They then struck downstairs, taking two television sets and jewellery. Although they clearly hadn’t set out to, they eventually took the car as well — but were disorganised enough to leave one television set behind.

Jones said that just one of the incidents was reported to police. The upstairs home owner simply thought his problem was not important enough. However, Jones said, SA Can is receiving more than 50% more crime reports than police.

“In defence of the police, we approach them because we are panic-stricken and they look at the facts only to find that our distress doesn’t marry with what they have in front of them.”

He said young criminals (aged between 17 and 23) have stolen firearms from homes in the area in much the same way as the unplanned theft of the car.

“Things are now escalating and the gangs are becoming more confident. In the past, they made sure the owners weren’t home. Now they are prepared to take them on. The risk of injury increases because these youngsters don’t understand the power of firearms. They don’t know what effect pointing a gun at someone’s head can have, but when they do, they quickly learn.”

Jones said 15 volunteers will visit more than 2 000 homes, listing reported and unreported crimes dating from November 2007.

“We want to go to the police with a solution, not just a problem. We want to go to them with facts and not just emotions … ” he said.

People willing to give their time should contact the duty manager at 083 799 1916 or e-mail@sacan.co.za

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