Ashdown stands up to Whoonga crime surge

2015-10-06 10:45
Senior citizens and pupils in Ashdown township took part in a march with police over community crisis affecting them.

Senior citizens and pupils in Ashdown township took part in a march with police over community crisis affecting them. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - The Ashdown community, west of Pietermaritzburg, is living in fear because of escalating substance abuse-related crimes, which include gang rapes and theft.

The residents are now claiming that police are unable to curb these crimes.

Lucky Ngubane, a member of the newly established Street Safety Committee in the area, said the problem of drugs “is getting out of hand” and that police seem to be failing the community by not apprehending the dealers.

“We had instances where police searched one of the houses of a drug dealer in our neighbourhood and they came out with nothing, but shortly after they left, the addicts came running to the house to buy more drugs. We just wonder if some of the police are working with the drug dealers,” he said.

Ngubane said the committee works hard, sacrificing their time, for nothing.

“There is a lot of theft, but we do our best to create a safer community for our children and elderly people,” he said.

He added that with recent horrific rape incidents, women and children in Ashdown are not safe. “We need the police to protect them. We cannot fight them alone.”

On Friday, community members and local schools embarked on a joint door-to-door crime awareness campaign with the police.

The residents are concerned about errant youth targeting elderly people, breaking into homes to feed their drug habits, and even committing gang rapes.

With a high number of school drop-outs in the area, many young people spend time during the day smoking Whoonga.

An elderly woman among the crowd on the day of the march, who asked not to be named, told The Witness that she doesn’t feel safe anymore as the young boys who are no longer attending school spend time “smoking pills” (referring to Whoonga).

“When they run out of it, they break into our houses demanding money from us, or steal items that could be easily carried away and sold. They might even rape us.

“I lock my house during the day because most people are at work, the children are at school and it is very quiet. We elderly people live in fear. We cannot move around the township because it is not safe,” she said. “If you speak out about crime they will mark you.”

She believes that the ex-convicts who are brought back into the community are behind these crimes. She claimed they sell drugs to young people in the community.

Last month, two young girls from the community were gang raped within the space of a fortnight. Another little girl who happened to be at home during a house breaking during the day, was also raped. The perpetrators were arrested.

The police, however, refuted the claims that Friday’s march was triggered by the criminal activities in the area, and said crime awareness is an ongoing programme, mobilising on recent crime trends.

Police spokesperson at the march Musa Ntombela said: “The police appeal to the community to help fight crime together. We will ensure that every tip we receive from the community is given attention.”

Ward councillor Dumisani Phungula said he is concerned with the level of crime in the area where there is a police station within less than a five-kilometre radius. “We are experiencing a lot of drug dealing that actually contributes to a high level of crime” Phungula said.

The councillor said the rape incidents were “the acts of substance abuse”.

He said in one of the recent gang rape incidents a 14-year-old girl was assaulted by four addicts, two of whom were recently released from prison after serving sentences for the same crime.

He said the community is working flat out to end these crimes

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  drugs

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