Cops taking no chances in Hillbrow

2011-12-30 22:29

Johannesburg - Fridges might fly and beds fall from the sky as residents in Hillbrow see in the New Year by throwing broken furniture on to the streets below.

Police will send in helicopters, armoured vehicles and special units on Saturday night to patrol the unruly area, which has earned a reputation as a trouble spot at the turn of the year.

Every year a dozen-odd people among those who dare to venture outside on December 31 are hit by crashing objects thrown out of high-rise apartment blocks - everything from televisions to kitchen appliances.

"We throw the old stuff because we got new stuff," said computer repairman Dickens Patwell, a 24-year-old Zimbabwean, who had himself once tipped a bed over his balcony.

People toss "many things, like electrical stuff", added his friend, fellow Zimbabwean James Thomas.

"Microwaves, broken stoves, televisions ..." the 26-year-old welder told AFP in a bustling Hillbrow street, as minibus taxis hooted loudly for passengers and vendors sold vegetables on the sidewalk.

"We don't throw things during the year, we can't afford to buy new things then," he said.

But two years ago an 11-month-old baby girl was seriously injured after being struck on the head by a brick - one of nine people hospitalised during New Year celebrations in the district that year.

The following year, locals opted to hurl stones at police patrol vehicles rather than furniture from windows. But emergency services still treated 14 people, including one man who had been hit over the head with a bottle.

Drinkers get hurt

Thousands of immigrants from other African countries populate Hillbrow and the surrounding districts.

South African Beauty Dube, who has lived in Hillbrow for 16 years, said she would be staying indoors with her family to keep safe.

But Thomas said the objects were not supposed to hurt people: it was just an easy way to get rid of possessions that did not work any more.

"We know nobody's gonna be out. We're creating jobs for other people," he said, echoing a popular belief that debris creates employment for street sweepers.

"Those who get hurt are drinkers" who stay outside too long, Dube added.

Officials are hesitant to blame the violence on foreigners for fear of inciting South Africans against immigrants.

Police believe the main culprits are people who have forcibly taken over buildings, said provincial spokesperson Tshisikhawe Ndou.

This year, he said, officials planned an aggressive approach to curb the violence.

"Various units will be deployed: dog units, the flying squad, the equestrian squad, public order police, and the technical response team," he added.

Authorities have also set up base camps in the surrounding area where victims can get emergency medical care.

Meanwhile, Thomas doesn't want to say what he'll cast away at this year's party, but it seems he won't be able to exchange the goods.

"Some stuff, Papa, 'cause they don't have a guarantee."

  • Mike - 2011-12-30 23:08

    Curfew! Why spending millions of our tax money??

      Squeegee - 2011-12-31 07:46

      Nuke the place.

      Frikkie - 2011-12-31 09:14

      I also read there is going to be like 600 officers on the streets of Hillbrow today. Seriously? And helicopters? And Armored vehicles? And the army is probably going to escort the paramedics again? Seriously!? MAYBE, just maybe, there is a bigger problem. . . Like aliens and druglords running the place as if there is no rule of law 364days of the year... *lightbulb*

      Squeegee - 2011-12-31 12:31

      Perhaps some of these idiots should throw themselves off a balconey this year...

  • Saksak Motsepe - 2011-12-31 00:33

    But this story is funny. It's a new years eve ritual to throw out furniture and appliances from 20 stories high. Lol.

      Squeegee - 2011-12-31 07:44

      I Hope you are standing on the pavement below and get hit by a freezer...

      Dennis - 2011-12-31 19:22

      Saksak Motsepe - December 30, 2011 at 16:33 Report comment But this story is funny. It's a new years eve ritual to throw out furniture and appliances from 20 stories high. Lol. 6 45 Reply to Saksak Motsepe | 1 comment -------------- Squeegee - December 30, 2011 at 23:44 Report comment I Hope you are standing on the pavement below and get hit by a freezer... ---------- To Saksak, I don't imagine that those who're hit by a large appliance or TV, are laughing. You can afford to laugh. You haven't been hit, yet. Dennis

  • Saksak Motsepe - 2011-12-31 01:06

    It looks like some people want to have a racial fight but black animals like me are not interest. Happy new year, keep a watchful eye for any flying object.

      Yar - 2011-12-31 10:31

      @ Saksak I think you might be right. I think that police should take precautions and arrest every white they find in Hillbrow immediately. Lets see if that cuts down the violence and disorder.

      Squeegee - 2011-12-31 12:29

      Yar, there are white people in Hillbrow?

      Yar - 2011-12-31 13:21

      Arrest them before they cause trouble

  • michel.pieterse - 2011-12-31 04:41

    I will never bitch at my neighbor again for throwing stompies into my garden :)Happy new year to all! remember; stay off the pavements and wear your hard hats!

      Dennis - 2011-12-31 08:53

      And I thought I was being reckless when I, as a teenager used to fire the .22 rifle straight up, in the air, and listen to hear where the bullet landed. Not realizing that if the bullet hit one of us in the head, it would've killed us. But, that's not a refridge, or a bed. Dennis

      Squeegee - 2011-12-31 14:24

      Poor Dennis. I think one of those .22 did hit you on the head. When a bullet falls it reaches terminal velocity which is far slower than when it leaves the barrel. It will hurt, it might kill, but this is unlikely. A freezer falling on your head in Hillbrow however will cure your problems permenently.

  • Peter - 2011-12-31 04:57

    Another example of how humanity disgusts itself.

  • Pawel - 2011-12-31 05:50

    Sounds like a party!

  • braamc - 2011-12-31 06:01

    We know who lives in Hillbrow, what I am concerned they can through themselves in the bed off the balcony, time to clean up Hillbrow

  • mario.dippenaar - 2011-12-31 07:41

    Maybe if give the aliens some catfood, they will behave... Bloody prawns.

  • Derrick - 2011-12-31 08:04

    Leonard Bloch you can help to fix the problem get up off your ass and form political parties and the people will listen to you give the ruling party something to worry about that is what call demacrocy get involve instead demeaning innocent people all the people can live good in south africa with out poverty work together my friends black and white instead of disrespecting each other their are good black and good whites but remember their are always a fue hundred ass holes who will instigate problem what awb mr vesage did in that tv station was not call for he is a fool and millitant blacks look at him and treat all whites in that manner . that is why the whites did not listen to him when he call for voilence after the death of mr terry blance and i hope no leaders black or whites will have to loose their life because of foolishness. all south africans leaders white or black it is time to move beyond that you all dont want a syria or libya it is not worth it we are sick and tired to see this thing happend in africa the childrens are the ones will suffer

      John - 2011-12-31 08:18

      Eish boet, there's your first problem identifying you as a uninformed gnat...... no-one "rules" in a democracy! Get some much needed education before trying to impress us with your nonexistent knowledge on SA.

  • darktruth - 2011-12-31 08:04

    This has to be a joke.

  • Lynette - 2011-12-31 08:51

    Cry, my beloved country.

  • Lephutsi - 2011-12-31 09:24

    Their behaviour is disgusting. The government should deport them. South Africans don't throw items through windows to celebrate new year. I don't think they will dare to behave the same way in their countries especially the Zimbabweans.

      Merven - 2011-12-31 09:47

      Yip, the ANC should've never opened the borders. Send all these foreigners back to their countries.

  • Yar - 2011-12-31 10:28

    Send them back to Harare & Lagos

  • Nicholas - 2011-12-31 11:04

    "Cops taking no chances in Hillbrow" We've been reading that headline this time every year for the last 20 years! Tomorrow will read: "quieter year this year in Hillbrow"

  • steveroodt - 2011-12-31 13:57

    And they said District Nine was fiction.

  • Dennis - 2011-12-31 19:15

    Back at cha, Squeegee - It happened two weeks ago, and it happens often. Perhaps you're happy with a 30 percent mortality rate? Depends upon how much you believe your life to be worth. ------------ Falling bullet velocity; Bullets fired into the air usually fall back at speeds much lower than those at which they leave the barrel of a firearm. Nevertheless, people can be injured, sometimes fatally, when bullets discharged into the air fall back down. The mortality rate among those struck by falling bullets is about 32%, compared with about 2% to 6% normally associated with gunshot wounds.[5] The higher mortality is related to the higher incidence of head wounds from falling bullets. ------------ Dennis

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