Magistrate hunts thief

2016-06-13 11:56
Exposed steel reinforcing rods on a roadside pavement which was targeted by an alleged thief who was arrested on Saturday.

Exposed steel reinforcing rods on a roadside pavement which was targeted by an alleged thief who was arrested on Saturday. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - A local magistrate, who has asked not to be named, and his brave neighbour went beyond the call of duty to hunt down a thief plaguing their neighbourhood at the weekend.

The pair were assisted by a police officer who eventually made the arrest of a 24-year-old man, who was spotted stealing steel reinforcing rods from a manhole.

According to ward 30 councillor Jaiheen Singh, the theft of on-road manhole covers and steel rods from concreted pavement manholes are two issues plaguing the northern suburbs, resulting in municipal infrastructure being damaged extensively.

According to the magistrate’s affidavit to the police, which The Witness has in its possession, while taking his daughter to school on Saturday morning, he spotted a man “smashing a concrete manhole with a big rock” on Chota Motala Road near Darjeeling Heights.

“I stopped and shouted at him but he ignored me. A number of people were walking past but did nothing to stop him,” the magistrate said in his statement.

With the alleged thief already in possession of two stolen rods, the magistrate raced to leave his daughter at the Deccan Road Primary School and sped back to his home where he fetched his neighbour for assistance.

The pair confronted the thief in the act, shouting at him to stop. But the thief retaliated, allegedly striking the magistrate with a steel rod.

With three heavy rods in hand, the thief fled, running between houses and bushes with the pair hot on his heels.

In his affidavit, the magistrate said he made a call to Pietermaritzburg K9 unit officer Reno Dayaram, who joined the chase almost immediately as he lives close to where the incident occurred.

The man was eventually cornered and arrested on the banks of a stream a few kilometres away.

It is believed the man was found in possession of a large sum of cash, a knife, marijuana and several ID books.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said the man is due to appear in court soon on charges of malicious damage to property and assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Singh said police should monitor scrapyards where thieves may be selling the stolen metals.

“These thefts are widespread and are taking place in just about every street in the northern suburbs. The issue was brought up in council a few months ago and is becoming hazardous to pedestrians, especially at night,” Singh said.

Singh said in a recent incident, a primary school pupil was left with minor injuries after falling into a damaged manhole in the Raisethorpe area.

Acting spokesperson for Msunduzi Nqobile Madonda said, “The problem of people stealing manhole covers, steel barricades as well as copper cables is spread throughout the city. These acts place the lives of people in unnecessary danger and could even lead to deaths.

“Council would like to commend the good work done by the SAPS in arresting the culprits and hope the arrest acts as a deterrent and warning to others still involved in these criminal activities. We would also like to urge our communities to report these criminal activities to the SAPS.”

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  theft

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