Suburb under siege

2014-10-31 00:00

There is no other way to describe it as residents fight a daily battle with crime and power outages.

Earlier this week, The Witness reported on a house robbery in Bentley Drive where nine family members were held at gunpoint while robbers ransacked their home. Chillingly, one of the robbers held the barrel of an AK47 to a four-year-old boy’s head and told him to go back to sleep.

Comments have been pouring in from Copesville residents since then, describing the scourge of crime in the area. Residents report that there are more than three break-ins every night, with some attackers targeting the same homes continuously.

The homes that are most frequently attacked are those in the vicinity of the main road, Copesville Drive, opposite the informal settlements in the area.

One resident, Anand Pillay, said that his house has been broken into five times in the past two years.

“It’s not just at night. We can’t even walk on the road during the day. If we do, we have to look over our backs and hope nobody is going to poke [stab] us. Trust me, there will be a war in this area soon,” Pillay said.

A member of the Copesville ANC branch executive committee, who asked to remain unnamed, said that “people in the area are living in fear for their lives each and every day”.

“When others worry about work and school, these people worry about waking up alive the next day. They don’t know what to do anymore, they are scared. It is almost as if the informal dwellers are trying to scare us away,” he said.

Another huge problem in the area is electricity shortages. Residents allege that they have been affected by shortages for almost five years. One resident, who asked to be referred to only as S. Anthony, said that life without electricity is taking a toll on her, especially because she has just had heart surgery.

“We only get electricity for three or four hours a day and not at night. There have been times that there is no electricity for a week. Sometimes it takes so much to do simple things like have a nice hot bath or eat a freshly cooked meal. Some people have all of these little things, but take it for granted. We beg the municipality to do something,” she pleaded.

Anthony’s daughters went through their matric year studying by candlelight and remain in the same dire straits at college now.

Residents allege that the power outages are caused by people from the informal settlements stealing electricity.

Thobeka Mafumbatha, spokesperson for the municipality, said that they will investigate the matter.

Councillor for the area, Thandi Ndlovu, refused to comment on the residents’ concerns and ended the call.


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