Vandals wreak mayhem

2019-05-07 06:00

The community of Bokmakierie is concerned about the growing criminal ills in the area.

Currently, the area is reportedly under the surge of cable theft and gang shooting, which have cost many lives.

A resident, Mogamat Noor Jacobs, says the issues have been going on for months now, with cable theft being the new trend.

Jacobs says it has appeared that thugs vandalise, steal and burn them to get copper which they then sell to get money whilst leaving residents in the dark.

This, according to him, is jeopardising safety and security of the residents.

He says when a report is logged with the City, officials drag their feet to attend the scene, same as the police who delay responding to incidents.

“This is one of the gang-ridden areas and you can tell that the officials are also frightened to come here.”

Jacobs says it is even worse now that the street cameras between the Fifth and Eighth Avenue have been vandalised.

He says police had previously made arrests soon after the incidents due to the effectiveness of cameras. Two of the cameras were vandalised.

He says all the hold-ups result in delays in collecting necessary details and having the problem solved.

According to Jacobs, officials would take up to an average of three days to attend and to restore electricity.

He wishes relevant authorities, Athlone police and the City could join and find solutions and curb these criminal elements.

Athlone police spokesperson, Sergeant Zita Norman says it is certain individuals within the community that commit these crimes and few outsiders.

She says there are no recent cases being investigated. “Normally, motive is for money to then purchase drugs.” She encouraged residents to be vigilant and report suspicious behaviours.

About the gang shootings within the area, she says Athlone police have deployed the Crime Prevention Unit within the area. She says the Anti-Gang Unit is also doing their surveillance within the area working closely with the Crime Intelligence office.

Richard Bosman, the executive director for safety and security says the City is aware of the increase of cable theft during the past three months. He says the Metals Theft Unit (MTU) include Bokmakierie in their day-to-day planned operations. He says the MTU receives complaints via electricity departments, “after the fact, and thus have to assist with maintenance of our infrastructure.”

He says due to the volatility of the area, the MTU also provides close protection duties of the electricity department staff to ensure they are safe whilst conducting repairs in the area.

Regarding the allegations of delayed response by the City officials, Bosman says this is not true as the unit has members on standby, who respond immediately as soon as cable theft is reported, and they also do patrols. He says they have had successful arrests and that they offer a reward of R5 000 for each tip-off that leads to an arrest.

“The unit nevertheless does its level best to prevent these illegal activities in the area. The residents must, therefore, take ownership of the infrastructure servicing their community and immediately report any vandalism and/or theft to the MTU, or the “Copperheads” as they are known

V Reports can be made by contacting the emergency number 107, 021 480 7700, or 0800 222 771, and can be treated anonymously.

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