Armed gang targets Winelands

2013-08-11 10:30
(File, supplied)

(File, supplied)

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Cape Town - An armed gang of robbers is believed to be terrorising the Cape winelands, which is home to some of the country’s wealthiest families.

The Sunday Times reported that police last week confirmed the crime-wave. “Indications suggested that criminals target isolated areas, especially on farms where vehicle access is limited,” said police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk.

He would not comment on whether it was a possible gang but one wine farm owner, who asked not to be named, said he had been robbed twice in the past few weeks and that up to a dozen farms had been targeted during this crime wave.

Other residents revealed that the robbers employed nearly identical tactics in several of the raids; they often moved on foot and were equipped with balaclavas, gloves and backpacks and in many cases they were familiar with the surroundings, enabling a fast getaway.

Police resources are however thin on the ground with apparently only two vehicles to patrol a rural area made up of nearly 400 farms and smallholdings.

The robbers operate under cover of darkness and strike in the early hours of the morning. Residents say they were not targeting tourists but rather valuable household items.

Robbery on the increase

Robbery was one of the categories of crime which showed an increase in the latest crime statistics released by the South Africa Police Services early this year. According to Africacheck, the total number of aggravated robberies reported to the police increased from 101 203 cases to 105 888 cases, which amounts to a 4.6% jump.

Although farm robberies per se are not reported on separately, the nature of aggravated robberies is often violent and traumatic, the website said.

While the Winelands crimes are affecting affluent farmers, smaller farmers have their own crime challenges to deal with. The crime statistics show around 30 000 cases of stock theft over the past five years, resulting in a challenge to food security for small stock farmers, says Africacheck.

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