Suburbs’ elderly targeted in new crime spree

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A spate of robberies and break-ins targeting elderly couples has caused alarm in the Wembley and Clarendon suburbs.

Police have been placed on high alert and advised residents in those areas to increase their security and to be vigilant.

In the first incident, two pensioners were assaulted and tied up in their home for two hours while two balaclava clad men ransacked their home in a secure complex on Taunton Road. In the other incident, the home, also belonging to pensioners, was accessed via Wylie Park and then through cutting a hole in the property fence.

In the Taunton road case, the 72 -year-old nursing assistant and her 73- year -old retired financial broker partner, told the Maritzburg Sun that two armed men wearing balaclavas entered their home at around 6pm on Thursday (September 14 ).  The couple did not want to be named for fear of victimisation.

The two men are believed to have entered the couple’s home through the kitchen door – which the couple say – appeared to have been tampered with earlier in the day.

“When we arrived from our weekly shopping at around 4.30pm, we noticed that the lock had been tampered with. We called a locksmith to immediately fix the door and checked if any of our belongings had been stolen,” said the retired broker.

He added that they were disappointed with the lack of police reaction.

“We notified the police when we found the door tampered and asked them to dispatch a patrol vehicle to the area to prevent any possible robbery but no such patrol happened. No one at the Townhill police station knew what was happening – it was either no one answering the phone, or we would be put on hold while they tracked (unsuccessfully) the whereabouts of the patrol vehicle,” said the frustrated resident.

While waiting for the locksmith company to arrive to fix the door, the robbers pounced on the couple kicking open the kitchen door.

“We were taken by surprise. They held us at gunpoint, tied us up with phone cords and gagged our mouths with a cloth.  I feared for my life. They kept shouting at us telling us not to look at them and not to try to do anything or else they’ll shoot,” recalled the tearful nursing assistant.

“I couldn’t hold my tears back out of fear… when I started crying one of the men asked me why I was crying. He punched, slapped and kicked me several times when I didn’t respond,” the elderly woman tearfully said.

Helpless the couple watched their home being ransacked, as the intruders made off with various electronic items (TV, kettle, microwave), two cell phones, car keys and the couple’s Hyundai Atos.

Left shaken and traumatised still tied up on their kitchen floor, the couple was eventually rescued by the locksmith who by then had arrived to fix the door.

The locksmith alerted the police.

Still living in fear, the couple said they haven’t been able to overcome their trauma.

“I keep thinking that we are going to be attacked again. One of the men kept saying he is coming back to finish us off,” he said.

Police Spokesperson Captain Khosi Khonjelwayo said that police arrived on the scene at 8.15pm and the couple’s vehicle was recovered but the appliances worth R60 000 has not been traced.

“The vehicle was recovered, undamaged in Burger Street the following day. No arrests have been made,” she said.

This attack is followed by a break in home in Old Howick Road, where burglars entered the property through Wylie Park, cutting a hole in the fence.

The affected family in this incident are still traumatised to speak to the media.

Reports, however, indicate that the suspects gained entry after breaking reinforced window panes next to the front door.

The family managed to lock themselves in the bedroom section that is separated from the house by burglar gates. The family experienced difficulties calling the police as a result of the power outage at the time that affected their cellphone signal.

The suspects managed to get away with outdoor furniture, a television, music system and wallet.

Khonjelwayo noted the Wembley and Clarendon areas had seen an increase in the number of house robberies reported in the recent few weeks.

“Police are on high alert following consecutive incidents. Residents have also been advised to be alert and to beef up their security systems,” she advised.

Bongeka Sibisi

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