The most violent month

2015-09-01 11:56

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AS August drew to a close yesterday, city centre ­Pietermaritzburg police officers were left counting case files in the aftermath of a month punctuated by gory assaults and murders.

Battered, bloodied and broken, scores of residents have flocked to Pietermaritzburg police stations to lay charges as a spate of violent attacks erupted throughout the CBD last month.

Pietermaritzburg (Loop Street) police station, which keeps guard over the CBD, recorded 60 cases of vicious assaults in the 31-day period, leading ­officers to believe that August was the most violent month this year.

Although the official police statistics are only due for release later this month, The Witness has acquired documents from sources that speak of an epidemic of violence — murders, assaults and sexual attacks — that swept the city centre.

Of the 60 cases reported, the victims knew or could identify their attackers in 43 incidents.

“Even though we had xenophobic violence in the city earlier this year, which only lasted two days, ­August is right up there in terms of people attacking each other,” a police source who would not be named said.

According to the documents, six murders occurred on the CBD streets in August, with the bodies left lying on pavements in all the incidents.

In two of the incidents, men were shot at point blank range at the Market Square taxi rank, with one being bludgeoned before being shot twice.

The other four murder cases were stabbing ­incidents.

Only one attempted murder case was opened last month, where a man was shot in the arm after having drinks at a tavern near Queen Street, while there were 21 cases of assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm across the CBD.

Areas including the Jika Joe informal settlement, eMatsheni Beer Hall, and taverns and taxi ranks along Langalibalele and Church streets accounted for most of the incidents, with bricks, spanners, knives, pangas and pipes identified among the common weapons used.

In one case, a man threw a kettle of boiling water on a woman when she refused to have sex with him after a dinner date at his Jika Joe home.

In other incidents, fights broke out at the Franki Bananaz night club and the eMatsheni Beer Hall when both victims refused to give their alleged attackers cigarettes.

Common assaults were responsible for most of the reports with 29 in total, including domestic violence, confrontations between employees in the workplace, common disputes resulting in fist fights, and small squabbles resulting in pushing, pulling and slapping.

There were two rape incidents reported in the Jika Joe area while a woman opened a sexual assault case against a male nurse at a city hospital.

The police documents show that 43 victims knew their attackers, 13 did not know who their attackers were, and suspects were promptly arrested by police in the remaining four incidents.

In addition, 22 incidents happened at night, 24 in the afternoon and 14 in the morning.

Black males (28) and females (21) were the most common victims, while Indian males (four) and ­females (two) made up 10% of the victims.

Coloured males (two) and a female reported five percent of assaults, and two white females reported being assaulted as well.

According to the documents, no white males were assaulted in the CBD.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese said that although the assault rates were high, there had been a decrease from August last year.

Ngobese said he would not be able to divulge any further information until the nation’s crime statistics were released later this month.

The Democratic Alliance’s Judith Lawrence, ­councillor for part of the CBD, said assaults were a “huge problem”.

“We are trying our best with limited resources. ­Often people do not report these crimes and that is one of our main issues,” she said.

The ANC’s Mary Schalkwyk, councillor for the ­remainder of the CBD, would not comment, referring The Witness to the municipality

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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