Pietermaritzburg’s robbery rates soar

2018-09-19 06:02


THERE has been a major surge in robberies in Pietermaritzburg this year, according to the national crime statistics released yesterday.

This, as police sources say a lack of resources and low morale has made fighting crime challenging.

The South African Police Service’s annual crime statistics were released yesterday morning with Pieter­maritzburg station coming in at number 18 on the national top 30 list for common robbery cases.

Pietermaritzburg police across all stations except Hilton and Howick have experienced a large increase in home robberies. (See a breakdown on page 2.)

There was also an increase in business robberies and burglaries as well as house burglaries in most of the police precincts.

Drug-related crimes also showed a massive jump, except at Hilton police station. Police sources who spoke to The Witness on condition of anonymity as they are unauthorised to speak to the press said their biggest challenge in fighting crime was a lack of resources, such as vehicles and equipment, and a lack of manpower leading to low morale.

One police source said that their station’s biggest problem was police vehicles. He said there were not enough roadworthy cars available.

“Property crime at Scottsville, Bisley and Pelham is also a major issue, especially houses near the varsity because you do not know who is a student and who isn’t.”

Townhill Community Policing Forum vice chairperson James Martin said there had been a problem with break-ins, however, the offenders had been arrested and “things have quietened down”.

He said he felt the crime in the area was down because of their proactive WhatsApp security groups and their close relationship with police. “Our biggest challenge is that we are surrounded by bush that makes access through it almost uncontrollable.”

Another police source said that on average, their members worked about 100 hours overtime every month because they were short-staffed, under-resourced and had very few vehicles. He said they did not get paid for their overtime.

A business owner in the CBD, Fahim Naby, said there was an incident in town every day, adding that the whoonga addicts living in town contributed almost entirely to these crimes. He said shop owners were constantly having to repair their ceilings after break-ins and that life had become very difficult for the business owners in the city.

While a Witness journalist was interviewing Naby on the phone, there was screaming and shouting in the background.

“Someone has just stolen a cellphone from a car. The community is chasing him now,” he said. “I think more of a police presence would make such a big difference.”

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