Cape Town - The “N2 Hell Run” has re-earned its notorious tag after yet another attack on a commuter.
This has prompted Community Safety MEC Dan Plato to announce that he would demand “urgent additional” resources for the province from the national Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko and national police commissioner, General Riah Phiyega.
“It is becoming evident that the province is continuously under-resourced, which not only places the SAPS under extreme pressure but… is also putting peoples’ lives at risk,” Plato said yesterday.
On July 15, police asked Helderberg Crime Watch – a community-funded NGO – to warn residents that “due to numerous serious incidents over the last few days on the N2 between Mew Way and the R300 this area has been declared a ‘hot spot’ zone by SAPS” and to avoid stopping on this section of the road.
Helderberg Crime Watch head Hugh Roe said the situation had deteriorated to the point of the crime watch receiving calls from motorists to “escort them from the petrol stations on the N2 (near Macassar) back to Somerset West after dark”, which it was assisting with.
On August 5, Plato announced that efforts were being stepped up to make the N2 near the airport safer after a spate of robberies.
His department, the police and the provincial and metro traffic services had agreed that at least one police vehicle should patrol the N2 and R300 – where similar attacks had occurred – at all times.
The CCTV operations centre would increase monitoring to 24 hours, and it had also been decided to clear vegetation near the road in which robbers could hide, Plato said.
But these measures were not sufficient to prevent the attack on another motorist yesterday morning, this time electrical engineer Frans Welgemoed, from Somerset West.
The same tactics were used as near a section of the N2 near Cape Town International Airport where robbers placed rocks in the road to stop vehicles.
Welgemoed hit a brick placed beneath the Macassar bridge, drove as far as he could before being forced to stop as his wheel’s rim hit the tarmac, and was then stabbed and robbed when he left his vehicle, the Cape Times reported.
As he fled, he tried to flag down a police vehicle, but he said it had “swerved to avoid him” and had driven off.
LACK OF RESOURCES
In response, Plato, said yesterday: “My office has received reports from the public that SAPS officers patrolling the N2 are claiming that they are severely understaffed and under-resourced.
“These reports reveal that the SAPS do not have enough resources to ensure regular patrols on the N2 in order to prevent attacks on motorists, and that support services like the 10111 emergency number are simply ineffective, with people calling the number being told that they are unable to be assisted,” Plato said.
“Following a positive meeting with the SAPS provincial senior management last week on the N2 safety concerns, where they promised increase patrols and interventions to stop the recent surge in attacks on motorists, (yesterday’s) reports of gross SAPS inefficiencies is simply unacceptable, and it needs to be addressed immediately by the national SAPS management,” Plato said.
“We will no longer tolerate a situation where provincial safety and security management reassures us that additional support has been provided and that the problem is under control, when the scenario on the ground remains unchanged.”
Plato said he would write to provincial police commissioner Arno Lamoer to request an “in-depth report on the ongoing patrols along the N2 highway”.
Plato appealed to people with information about the attacks to contact the Department of Community Safety’s policing complaints hotline on 021 483 4332.