Attacks galore on notorious Ashley bridge

2014-01-28 00:00

“YOU have to think twice before you go over that bridge.”

This is the stern warning from street vendor Beauty Dlamini who has sat at the approach to the notorious bridge in Ashley for years and has witnessed many a mugging.

Dlamini sets up her stand early in the morning from where she sells sweets, fruit and newspapers and she says she is petrified every day.

The pedestrian bridge that connects Pine­town and Ashley and spans the King Cetshwayo Highway is said to be a no-go area and is feared by many residents and workers.

Despite this many workers risk walking over the bridge from taxi ranks and the train station to their places of work and then again on their way back home on a daily basis. Most of these commuters are left with no choice because this is the only route available.

Even though Dlamini has not been threatened or robbed, she has seen others who were not so lucky. “People’s phones get stolen,” she said. “Both men and women are always crying. I’ve seen people falling down the stairs after they had been threatened at knifepoint and were trying to run away.

“I’m no different to any of those people. I’m sure the robbers see me as a target as well. But I’m still around because of God’s protection.”

Two employees from a nearby steel firm, Xolani Thabethe and Musa Mthimkhulu, said people are usually harassed in the afternoon when it is quiet, or at weekends. They claim that the thieves smoke the street drug whoonga. “White people are mugged the most and those people that walk alone,” Thabethe said.

Sizwe Mhlongo was robbed by “three boys” with knives last month, and they took his cellphone and R30. He was walking alone and says he is now reluctant to use that bridge and asks friends for a lift to the taxi rank.

Ashley Residents Neighbourhood Watch chairperson Justin Bosse says the crime in the area has decreased due to their patrol teams. “But we still have occasional problems and robberies that happen on the bridge.”

Bosse said that complexes and businesses close to the bridge are also vulnerable. In November Bosse chased thieves after they had snatched an 11-year-old boy’s cellphone while he was walking over the bridge after school. “It was a hell of a chase, I thought my lungs were going to collapse,” Bosse said. “But I recovered the cellphone.”

Bosse said the neighbourhood watch are working closely with the police in a bid to curb the spate of muggings.

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