Revolt against crime plague

2018-11-27 15:54

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A fearless gang of robbers are unleashing terror in Ashdown and residents say they have had enough.

Now, the community is calling on the Police Ministry to set up a high level task team to probe the crime in the area, which has also led to the murders of key witnesses in cases involving the gang.

The hits are allegedly being ordered by members of the gang who are behind bars.

Seven witnesses — including two state witnesses, in a string of cases in the area including high profile murders, business robberies, rape and car hijackings — have been killed since April, resulting in some of the cases being dropped.

Residents and sources close to the investigations said four members of the gang have been released from jail as the cases against them have collapsed due to the murders of witnesses.

In recent incidents, two teenagers from the township, one of them who was later murdered, were raped, allegedly by members of the crime syndicate.

Matric pupil Lindiwe Bowes was found murdered in a pool of blood on November 10.

The 18-year-old was killed after she had opened a rape case against one of the kingpins in the gang.

The Witness was informed that since her death, one of Lindiwe’s relatives has also been receiving death threats.

The residents are demanding witness protection for Lindiwe’s family and the family of the 16-year-old rape survivor.

In October, The Witness reported that a 16-year-old girl was abducted on her way home from a wedding and was drugged, gang-raped and stabbed.

A source close to the investigation, said a police task team deployed to fight crime from Plessislaer police station earlier this year, had arrested 10 members of the gang.

“Four of them are still in jail and the two that turned state witnesses were killed soon after their release. I do not know what is being done to protect witnesses,” said the source.

“Even Bowes was supposed to have gone to witness protection in April and all arrangements had been made for her to go to Limpopo where she would have written her matric, but that did not happen,” said the source.

On Monday, the outraged residents staged a march to the Plessislaer police station saying “enough is enough”.

Ward councillor Dumisani Phungula said the crime rate in Ashdown was shocking.

“People can’t walk a kilometre without looking over their shoulders. Perpetrators are roaming free in our streets even after [we have] laid charges against them. We have had enough of our women being brutally raped and murdered,” said Phungula.

He said there have been several incidents involving unknown vehicles whose occupants had robbed residents.

Phungula said certain areas, including the Ashdown Bridge, Peace Valley 2 Bridge and the railway line in Gomora, had become no-go zones.

A memorandum outlining crime matters that should be considered was handed to the Plessislaer police.

The memorandum demanded that police be visible on the streets on a daily basis and that they should respond quickly when crime takes place.

The residents also demanded that police communicate their programme of action to the community and asked that safety budgets be increased in the area.

“We are frustrated and dissatisfied by the persistent failure of this police station to effectively attend to pending cases,” said Phungula.

Over 10 residents came forward with case numbers of cases they said have never been investigated.

The community also accused some Plessislaer police officials and reservists of supplying drugs in the area.

“There is a large number of drug outlets in this area and there are officials who frequent them. What are they doing there if no one is being arrested? It’s clear that they are working with the drug lords,” said one community member.

Attempts to get comment from police from November 11 with regards to the murders of witnesses, have been unsuccessful despite numerous subsequent requests for comment.

Plessislaer police station commander Brigadier Mduduzi Shezi said he would escalate the grievances to his superiors and respond within 14 days.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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