Criminals strike business

2017-06-07 06:03

An Ethiopian, Asrat Getachew Bekele, who has a business in Bloemfontein’s inner city, regards himself and spouse Tensae Fetene as lucky to be alive. This is after being robbed by five armed men in broad daylight on Tuesday, 23 May.

Bekele trades from one of the shops in Hanger Street, one of the busiest streets in the inner city. He sells a range of products, like furniture, curtains and jewellery. He employes nine locals.

Bekele said the men stole jewellery and stock worth R40 000 and R8 700 cash. He said part of the money, reportedly not recovered, had been meant to pay rent and the workers’ salaries.

On the day in question, there were sporadic incidents of looting of shops in the inner city and a bottle store opposite the Free State headquarters of the South African Revenue Services premises in Nelson Mandela Drive. The looters reportedly smashed the windows of shops in the inner city.

These sporadic incidents were partly blamed on the South African Municipality Workers Union (Samwu), which is currently on strike.

However, the Ethiopian maintains habitual criminals capitalised on the strike of the workers to continue with criminality.

Although this is not the first robbery incident, the Ethiopian entrepreneur said the latest incident had left him and his wife shellshocked.

“This has traumatised us and we fear to open for business, since this happened in daylight in the presence of several people,” said Bekele.

“Two men were each holding a gun to my head while the third one, also armed with a gun, held my wife. The three men instructed us to remain silent and to give them money. They forced us into the toilets. where nobody would hear even if we tried screaming for help.”

He said the five armed robbers had stormed into the shop when he opened the roller door of the shop.

Held hostage by the armed men, they could do nothing.

“It was well-planned. The other two men remained at the door which was opened half way.

“I think they were pretending they were waiting for the business to open while, in fact, they were on a mission and exchanging information about if there were any police coming or not.”

Bekele said that after robbing them, the robbers fled.

“We remained in the dark shop for a while, traumatised.”

While the police investigation is underway, Bekele said he found it difficult to manage their business.

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