City becomes crime capital

Crime statitistics




Numbeo, which is an on-line database of user-contributed information, ranks Pietermaritzburg fourth in its global Crime Index rate, ahead of Johannesburg ranked 6th , Durban 8th and Pretoria 9th. Pietermaritzburg has a crime index of 82.21 and a safety index of 17.79.

Over 80% of participants who logged information said crime in the city was very high and had been increasing over the last three years. 86% were worried about a break-in while 84% feared for the personal safety. 86.46% said they were concerned about violent crimes including assault and armed robbery.

And given the high level of crime reported in the past three weeks alone, city residents have every reason to be fearful.

On Wednesday last week the Alexandra Road SAPS held a safety precaution awareness meeting in Scottsville to answer residents’ concerns  following a series of armed robberies and house break-ins in the precinct.

The station’s spokeswoman Captain Kholeka Mhlongo confirmed that Scottsville, Hayfields and Pelham were experiencing high levels of crime and that police patrols had been stepped up.

Despite increased police patrols and visible patrolling by private security firms, the crime wave has continued unabated, which Captain Mhlongo attributes to the geography of the areas as a contributing factor.

“Criminals target areas close to the highway as this makes it easier for them to exit the city and escape,” said Captain Mhlongo.

Maritzburg Sun has reported on several brutal robberies occurring in the area. These include the following:

  • Earlier this year, a Lincoln Meade woman was assaulted, bound and gagged during a robbery at her home;
  • Last month an elderly 89-year-old Scottsville resident was battered and tied-up during a home invasion. Her home was ransacked with the robbers escaping with her 2006 Kia Picanto;
  • Earlier this month, a 63-year-old Bellevue woman, Maria Greyling was found dead in her garden – she had sustained head injuries during a robbery;
  • Last Thursday 32-year-old Zimbabwean pastor Proud Kanyungwe and his 28-year-old wife Belinda Mukucha were shot dead in their home in Scottsville extension during an armed robbery.

Enough is enough say residents, many of whom have joined neighbourhood watch groups and on-line crime forums in a bid to exchange information and alert one another in an emergency.

Bisley Heights resident Roger Matthews says his home was recently targeted by burglars.

“I’ve opted to install security and alarm system…but there is no guarantee that the criminals will not return,” says Matthews.

Milton Ncolosi  who is the Alexandra Community Policing Forum chairperson acknowledged that crime is causing distress within the community but urged for residents to “unite against crime”.

“Together we can create a unified campaign to decrease crime within the community…we need to become whistle blowers against crime”, encouraged Ncolosi.

Ward 36 councillor Vic Winterbach said the community is reeling from the high crime rate but encouraged residents to work together.

“We are a community suburb where families share their lives together…it is unfortunate that our area is constantly exposed to crime, but we urge visibility as the ward’s community policing forum is working closely with SAPS. Through joining forces, hopefully, crime can be combated”, said Winterbach.

Captain Mhlongo provided the following crime prevention tips for the public:

  • Never walk alone, especially at night;
  • Do not carry valuable items such as laptops, cell phones, cameras and cash when walking at night;
  • Avoid displaying valuables which criminals can see;
  • Residents need to always share their whereabouts and daily activity with close family and friend.

The Numbeo ranking has caused some controversy though with some commentators questioning how Pietermaritzburg and other South African cities ranking so high, ahead of known crime capitals in Mexico and Latin America.

“These rankings are misleading because (some in the) South African community are drama queens known for bigging their crime up. They will deliberately come on here (it may sound crazy but it’s true [if you’re familiar with their behavior you’ll know what I’m talking about – they’re an online nuisance]) and purposely skew their cities as high as possible and say crime is getting worse every year, regardless of whether crime has actually been going up or down,” commented one respondent.

Another commentator who posts under the name Daniel had this to say:

“Crime in Maritzburg is spiralling out of control, Alexandra Police is one of the worst stations ever, you even give them leads but they don’t follow up on them. I am from Cleland and many house break ins are taking place all over Hayfields, Bellevue, Scottsville areas. Please can the police actually start doing their jobs and be held accountable to follow up on opened case numbers etc.. don’t just forget about it!!!!”.

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Bongeka Sibisi

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