Farmers: ‘Thugs are protected’

2009-11-30 00:00

WHILE the work of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DCPI) has been praised, farmers in the area complained bitterly that it took the “high-profile” murder of a politically connected man, Dr Warwick Dorning, to ensure that the violent armed robbers who have been plaguing the Howick, Dargle, Lidgetton and Merrivale areas were arrested.

One farmer said he had hired a private investigator and had passed a huge amount of information to the Howick police station about the gang, but that they had not acted on it.

The Witness heard from one farmer that he had been robbed four times recently and the police had been unable to solve one case.

The farmers alleged that the activities of the robbers had been protected by having a police contact on the inside of the police station at Howick.

Simple procedures like fingerprinting were deliberately not done properly to ensure that the perpetrators were never caught.

“The criminals have been tipped off and are being protected, and the police are enabling this to happen,” alleged one farmer.

He said meetings with police about high crime levels always end in unfulfilled promises.

The Witness heard that violent incidents during recent robberies in the Dargle Valley included a man’s skin being grated with a cheese grater, a 93-year-old man being hit over the head with a gun, and a man being stabbed in the neck.

“And police did nothing,” said one disgruntled source.

He alleged that the policeman arrested in conncection with the Dorning murder was implicated in a host of other criminal activities. This could, however, not be confirmed by police.

Another said the Dargle Valley is a major employer of farm workers and for activities along the Midlands Meander, but that if crime in the area is not controlled, this will set back these activities.

Reacting to the allegations, police provincial spokeswoman Director Phindile Radebe said police treat all cases equally.

She emphasised that if people are unhappy with the service offered at station level they should report this to higher levels.

A PROVINCIAL symposium, “Building a united front against crime” is to be convened soon, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu announced yesterday.

“It will involve the participation of all sections of society — that is political parties, business and religious leaders, civic leaders, councillors, traditional leaders, community organisations, academics, youth, professionals including lawyers who represent criminals before courts, the media and other state departments,” Mchunu said.

He added that the symposium will discuss and develop concrete plans, including crime prevention and detection; a database of suspected criminals in each locality; police report-back mechanisms for the victims of crime; roles and responsibilities of individuals and sectors in building a united front against crime; and a plan to deal with car hijackings and business and house robberies.

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