Police are aware 'but they don't do anything': Mpumalanga vendors living in fear of being robbed

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Commuters and street vendors allege they have been robbed by men who often sit behind their stalls outside Phola Mall and Vezubuhle crossing in Mpumalanga.
Commuters and street vendors allege they have been robbed by men who often sit behind their stalls outside Phola Mall and Vezubuhle crossing in Mpumalanga.
PHOTO: Warren Mabona/News24
  • Bus passengers and street vendors allege they have been robbed by drug users who target them at the Vezubuhle crossing in Mpumalanga.
  • They want the police to remove the men from the area.
  • Mpumalanga police say they have arrested several drug users for various offences at the crossing in the past.

Bus passengers and street vendors in KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga are living in fear as groups of men rob and steal from them, with allegedly little intervention from the police.

Residents have appealed to the authorities to take action against criminals terrorising the area.

Vendors sell their goods from stalls outside Phola Mall and the Vezubuhle crossing along the R573, a busy corridor between Pretoria and KwaMhlanga.

Street vendor Cynthia Masombuka told News24 she was robbed of her bag, a cellphone, her weekly bus coupon and R200 by two men at a bus stop last month.

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She said the men pounced while she was waiting for a bus at about 04:00 to travel to work in Pretoria.

"They told me not to scream, and one of them snatched my bag," added Masombuka.

"They then ran towards Phola Park and disappeared. I had just arrived at the bus stop and was the only person there when they robbed me.

Masombuka continued:

I did not open a case because I have been told by other passengers and vendors that the police are aware that these drug users often rob people at that crossing, but they don't do anything.

When News24 arrived at the crossing this week, a group of men congregated behind one of the vendors' stalls. Two of them were injecting themselves with syringes. Two others were smoking joints of what smelled like a mixture of dagga and nyaope.

Street vendor Moses Kabini told News24 one of the men grabbed his cellphone from his table and ran away in January this year.

He said two cellphones of other vendors were mysteriously stolen inside their stalls in July.

"I always have to keep my phone in my hand," added Kabini.

"I don't even smoke a cigarette, but I always have to inhale the smell of dagga and other different drugs. We asked the police to remove these people here, but they ignored us."

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Mpumalanga police spokesperson, Colonel Donald Mdhluli, told News24 the police had arrested several people for drug possession and other offences at the crossing in the past.

He said the police also discovered some vendors asked the young men believed to be terrorising the area to do odd jobs for them, but did not pay them.

"Some vendors send them (drug users) to the shops to buy them stock and did not pay them," added Mdhluli.

"They (drug users) then ended up stealing from the vendors. But the police arrested them for that."

Mdhluli called on the victims of any crime to open criminal cases at their local police stations.

He also appealed to residents and civil society organisations to help police and social workers to find the families of drug users who frequented the crossing so they could offer them help.

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