Prestbury and Town Hill have most burglaries in PMB

2013-09-30 00:00

Data from the recently released SAPS crime statistics for 2012/13 showed that 69 out of every 1 000 households in Westville had been burgled.

According to independent analyst Michael O’Donovan and corroborated by the crime statistics, you are more likely to be a victim of household burglary if you live in a middle to upper income suburb situated next to or near a poor area.

For example, in Durban all burglary hot spots are predominately in established suburbs. In this belt of crime, which stretches from Hillcrest to the Berea, you are two to five times more likely to be a victim of burglary than in the adjacent poor neighbourhoods.

For instance, Cato Manor, which comprises low-cost housing and sits in the middle of several middle to higher income group suburbs, experiences as much as three times lower levels of burglary in relation to all the suburbs it borders upon.

O’Donovan, who was consulted for the Institute of Security Studies and several government bodies, including the Office of the Presidency, said crime has less to do with inequality and more to do with urbanisation, anonymity and the proximity of low-income areas to affluent suburbs.

However, the police disputed this theory and said that burglary in townships, poor areas and informal settlements is much more of a possibility than the middle to upper income suburbs.

O’Donovan, who has reviewed the national population census data from 1996 and 2001 to ascertain the correlation between inequality and crime, said trends reveal that crimes such as burglary and robbery are more likely to occur when an affluent suburb is bordered by a poor suburb.

“There is no correlation between inequality and crime. For instance, poor rural areas do not have high levels of crime, largely due to the fact the community knows each other. However, one of the determinants of crime being prevalent is having an affluent area next to a poorer one as people are more likely to commit a crime against a community which they are not a part of or known to. This increases the suspects chances of getting away with it. Urbanisation is another factor that increases the likelihood of criminal activity as it allows for a greater degree of anonymity,” said O’Donovan.

Colonel Jay Naicker said townships and informal settlements have higher levels of crime because they are soft targets.

“It is hard to police informal settlements and poorer neighbourhoods. Criminals target these areas because they are vulnerable. They do not have security guards, fences, alarms or dogs. In some instances, the suspect merely kicks down the wall to gain access to a home when the occupants are out at work,” said Naicker­.


If you live in Westville, you live in KwaZulu-Natal’s house burglary capital, a position it has held for the last two years.

But the good news is the rate of burglary for Westville has remained largely static during that period compared to Malvern and Sydenham which has seen an increase of more 200 incidents reported respectively compared to the 2011/12 police crime statistics.

The Berea and Hillcrest has seen the sharpest fall in burglary statistics dropping by 183 and 188 respectively.

Kevin Harvey, chairman of the Westville Community Policing Forum said the high rate of burglary within the Westville suburb was of “high concern”.

“Crime within the Westville area needs to continually fought. What we have noticed is that when crime leaves Westville it moves to the neighbouring areas of Sydenham and Pinetown. The police cannot fight crime on their own. They need the support of the communities they serve to enable them to be more proactive (preventing crime) rather than reactive (attending to the scene of a crime). We have a number of initiatives in place to build a relationship with the police station and its members as well as employing better information gathering and sharing techniques,” said Harvey.

He said underreporting by the public, specifically on crimes such as attempted burglaries by residents make it difficult for the police to adequately use their resources.

“Criminals pick it up very easily when an area is vigilant and when they are not. We have grown this CPF over the years and get up to 90 people per meeting, which is not a lot considering there are 11 000 households here,” said Harvey.

Hillcrest ward councillor Rick Crouch whose ward also includes Gillitts, Kloof, Stockville and Winston Park said there is a need for a greater police presence.

“We need more policemen and more resources to enable our police stations to be able to do their work,” said Crouch.

Several gangs, who have been nicknamed the Panga Gang, Gate Crashers, Whoonga Gang and Finger Gang have this year robbed several homes in Upper Highway, Kloof, Westville, Gillitts, Hillcrest, Assagay and Durban North often when the home owners are at home and holding them at gunpoint.

PRESTBURY and Town Hill experienced the highest number of burglaries in Pietermaritzburg, the 2012/13 police crime statistics reveal.

Yet Mountain Rise, which is home to one of the largest number of households in Pietermaritzburg, has seen a decline, albeit nominal, in household burglary over the past 24 months.

But other forms of crime have not abated, with syndicates still operating in Pietermaritzburg.

Since 2007, what has been called the “Five-Minute Gang”, has been operating in Town Hill and Prestbury, often using hired cars in order to commit their crimes.

The gang’s name summarises their modus operandi, which incorporates quick burglaries before either private security or police can react. Although several members of this gang were arrested in 2008, this type of robbery continues.

Another gang, whose members were arrested in April, used a similar technique, but would only commit their crimes in the morning between 9 am and midday, leading to their being called the “mornings only gang”.

Both the Mornings-Only Gang and Five-Minute Gang are believed to be based in Durban.

Chase Valley resident Cameron Brisbane, whose home was ransacked by the Mornings-Only Gang, said what was stolen was irreplaceable.

“They took my video camera that had some footage of our holidays in Egypt and Cape Town. They also stole some important documents, which is very inconvenient. They [the burglars] were in and out in four minutes. There was no one in the house at the time. The security company was there within four-and-a-half minutes of the alarm going off. When they got to the house, the gate was derailed and the sliding door was forced open,” said Brisbane.

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