MOTORISTS BEWARE

2017-10-25 13:43
Crime trends for PMB police stations.

Crime trends for PMB police stations. (Graphics24)

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Pietermaritzburg motorists are under siege, with carjackings in the city having increased dramatically in the last year.

Official police statistics released on Tuesday reveal that carjackings in the central business district rocketed by about 215% between April last year and March this year.

Carjackings in the CBD went from 13 cases in the previous period to 41 this year, four times the number they were 10 years ago.

The situation was similar in the Plessislaer policing area, with carjackings having increased by more than 103%, from 30 in the last period to 61 in this period.

The Mountain Rise policing district saw an increase of 48%, while the Alexandra Road policing area saw a 75% increase.

Overall, carjackings in KwaZulu-Natal increased by 21,5%. The province saw just over 3 000 carjacking cases opened in that period.

Statistics made available after a presentation by Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to the portfolio committee on policing in Cape Town on Tuesday suggested that while rape, attempted murder and contact crimes in the province had seen minor decreases, they still remained among the highest of all provinces.

These statistics were:

Rape cases went down by 3,8%, but with 7 032 cases reported, KZN had the second-highest number of cases reported behind Gauteng;

Attempted murder went down by 3,1%, but KZN still had the second-highest number of cases behind Gauteng; and

Contact crimes went down by 2,8%, but KZN was still among the provinces with the highest number of recorded cases. KZN had more than 95 000 cases — only the Western Cape and Gauteng recorded more.

Robbery with aggravated circumstances shot up by 111% in Hilton.

Alexandra Road Community Policing Forum chairperson Milton Ncolosi said carjackings accounted for about 40% of the overall crime there.

He said the area was hit mainly by robberies, business robberies and burglaries.

Ncolosi said community members were very fearful.

“When I first moved here, my fence was not even one metre high, now it’s very high. Even then I don’t feel safe.”

He said the CPF tries to meet monthly with community members to come up with strategies to fight crime.

Gerald Harry, chairperson of Pietermaritzburg (Loop Street) police station’s CPF, said the increase in carjackings was scary.

Harry said a new trend that they had seen was prostitutes luring people to secluded streets where criminals would be waiting.

He added: “We’ve also seen people with razor wire on their hands assaulting motorists to get them to get out of the car when being carjacked. We also see [criminals] holding [motorists] at knifepoint and gunpoint.”

Plessislaer CPF chairperson Sifiso Mavundla said he was not surprised at the increase in hijackings.

“In KZN, criminals know that there aren’t many trackers in cars. So sometimes we see cars [stolen from our area] are taken across the border.”

He said that conflicts in taverns were another problem facing the area.

Chairperson of the Townhill CPF, Megan Nicol, said they had seen property crimes go down because of increased patrols by private security, the CPF members and SAPS.

“The challenge is to maintain this trend over the festive season and through the coming year.”

Mountain Rise station spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim said the situation had been contained since March. “There’s no hotspot area; they happen randomly, so we’ve increased patrols.”

Spokesperson for Pietermaritzburg police station, Captain Khosi Khonjelwayo, did not respond to an SMS query on Tuesday.

'Nothing is more valuable than your life'

Commenting on the increase in carjackings, spokesperson for the Automobile Association, Layton Beard, advised motorists to avoid hotspot areas when they could — especially when it is dark.

He said motorists should try their best to remain calm should they ever find themselves in that situation. “Always tell the carjacker what you are doing, like if you want to unclip your seatbelt. It stops them from getting agitated.”

He added that motorists should not try to fight carjackers.

“Let your car go, let your valuables go. Nothing is more valuable than your life.” 


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