Metal robbers raid factory

2009-08-25 00:00

ROBBERS believed to be scrap-metal traders held factory workers at gunpoint and bound their hands and legs with wire during a robbery at an engineering company in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday night.

About 15 robbers, some armed with guns, entered the factory in Pentrich Road, held two employees at gunpoint and took about 300 kg of brass components.

Factory owner Jonathan Edwards said the robbery was the second incident within a week. “On Sunday last week they broke into the building and stole aluminium and brass materials. I believe they steal these goods to sell to metal dealers.”

Edwards askedThe Witness not to publish the name of his company for fear of being targeted again.

The two employees were on night duty when the robbery took place.

SAPS spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said the robbery happened just before midnight.

While the two employees were busy with their duties a compressor suddenly switched off. One of the workers went outside to restart it.

“As he stepped outside, a man held him at gunpoint. Immediately a group of approximately 15 robbers emerged from the darkness and entered.”

Budhram said two others in the gang were also armed with firearms, one believed to be a home-made rifle.

The robbers used wire to tie the employees’ hands and legs together before they made off with the brass components.

According to Edwards, scrap-metal dealers pay about R25 per kilogram for brass.

Budhram said the robbers entered the factory through the back where they damaged the concrete fencing. He said they fled on foot, but believes they had getaway vehicles parked nearby.

In other thefts related to scrap-metal trading, manhole covers and stormwater drain grids are being stolen in the Pietermaritzburg city centre. More than 20 drains in Church street have no grids.

Msunduzi Municipality spokeswoman Ntobeko Ngcobo said the municipality has received numerous reports about missing stormwater grids. “We replaced them and they were stolen the following evening. We are in the process of replacing the metal grids with solid concrete slabs,” she said.

Scrap-metal dealers have been blamed for perpetuating crime and vandalism. The SAPS is involved in a special project, the Non-Ferrous Metal Project, focusing on crimes related to various types of metal and aluminum products. Other businesses affected by theft of metal are Telkom, Eskom and construction businesses. The Non-Ferrous Theft Combating Committee, under the auspices of Business Against Crime and the SA Police Service, works to find ways of protecting cables.

Police urge anyone with information about the Pentrich Road incident or the whereabouts of the suspects to contact Detective Inspector Vis Naicker of SAPS Alexandra Road detective services at 033 845 7720 or 079 075 6356, or Crime Stop on the toll-free number 08600 10111.

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