‘We’ll defeat gold gang’

2018-02-19 13:45
Attacks by robbers seeking jewellery galvanise community.

Attacks by robbers seeking jewellery galvanise community. (File)

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The recent wave of armed robberies in the Northern suburbs has residents living in fear, with many increasing security measures and exercising greater caution.

But residents also told The Witness how the spate of incidents has galvanised the community to rally together and work with private security companies and the police to curb crime in areas­ like Allandale, Orient Heights and Raisethorpe.

In the last two weeks, at least five homes have been robbed by a group of men, dubbed the “Gold Gang”, who demand cash and gold as they brandish guns and threaten residents before fleeing without a trace. A silver VW Polo sedan has been used as the getaway car in each incident.

Community members who The Witness spoke to highlighted the need for extra vigilance, especially since the crimes appear to be opportunistic, with the gang targeting unsecured homes.

On Friday night, community members met with police at Capricorn Crescent, Allandale, to address the apparent recent increase in crime in the Northern areas.

Ward 30 councillor Renesha Jugmohan said residents, who feel “vulnerable”, have asked for increased police visibility.

Orient Heights resident Rakesh Sivnarain told The Witness on Sunday he was particularly afraid to leave his home at night, since some of the homes hit by the group were close to his house.

“We have invested in security features to safeguard our property. These criminals are ruthless and not afraid of anyone,” he said.

Another Orient Heights resident, who did not want to be named, said he was “living in fear” and had increased his home security, and adopted dogs to protect the property.

Raisethorpe resident Rakesh Ishwarlall said the perceived increase in crime has heightened residents’ vigilance.

“We are living in a time where you need eyes in the back of your head,” he said.

“As a community, we need to act offensively to avoid being a victim, but it takes each and every one to stop the scourge of crime.”

Darjeeling Heights resident Kosheek Singh said he had doubled his home security, and advised that residents vet domestic and other workers to limit the chance of “an inside job”.

He said the lack of maintenance of verges and the dilapidated properties on some roads created opportunities for criminals to hide.

But some believed the incidents have inspired greater unity among community members.

Suneal Beharie, chairperson of the Sector 4 community policing forum, said residents had even used their personal vehicles to cordon off areas “in case anything went wrong” on a few occasions last week.

“Those recent armed robberies have made the community get involved with crime fighting. I can give you an example, our [WhatsApp chat group] has grown by about 50 people in the last week alone. So people want to fight back.”

Ashin Singh, of Raisethorpe, echoed Beharie. “Residents are getting together and fighting back. They are looking for suspects and security companies are helping. It’s a good sign.”

He added: “Crime is nothing new, we always need to be cautious.”

Police spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim urged residents not to become complacent.

“Lock your gate behind you, even if you are outside for 20 seconds. We also urge the public to be wary of strange cars or people who are not usually seen in the neighbourhood.”

On Tuesday, February 6: An 87-year-old woman was told to remove her jewellery at gunpoint when the Gold Gang entered a Northdale home at about 10 pm and demanded cash and gold. The family said robbers made off with about R450 000 in jewellery.

n Thursday, February 8: The Gold Gang made off with about another R450 000 in jewellery from an Orient Heights family.

n Tuesday, February 13: A 34-year-old woman, her son and a relative were locked in a bedroom as the Gold Gang ransacked their home. The gang made off with jewellery and other belongings, and even stole the family’s Mercedes-Benz, which was later found abandoned in the Swayimani area, near Wartburg.

n Wednesday, February 14: An Allandale family of nine, including five young children, were locked in a bathroom as the gang ransacked their house. The gang made off with about R250 000 in goods, police said.

n Thursday, February 15: The Gold Gang fled after a Northdale family began screaming and fighting them off. A handbag was stolen in the incident, and a cellphone that was in it was later recovered.

• Additional reporting by Chelsea 
Pieterse

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  house robberies

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