Joburg community living in terror

Johannesburg -

A Muldersdrift community is living in terror. People walk around with panic buttons around their necks, in their pockets and in handbags.

Klause Schroter gave a copy of his picture where he was attacked at his house and they robbed him R10 000 and they took his car. Picture: Sharon Seretlo. Credit: INLSA

Many have small two-way radios to check if everyone in their family is safe from the gun-toting criminals who have placed the community under siege.

When the clock strikes 5pm, they lock their doors, take their guns out of the safe and pray they will not be the latest crime statistic.

This is Clinic Road, Muldersdrift, a small, semi-rural community where 25 of the 27 smallholdings have been hit - a strike rate of 93 percent over the past two years.

The crime wave has escalated in the past three months.

Thirteen-year-old Alyssa Botha, who was shot dead on Wednesday by men who fled with two cellphones and an empty wallet, was the latest victim in a long line.

Her father Anton was shot in the abdomen and her older sister in the legs during the robbery. The father was discharged from intensive care and put in a general ward.

Alyssa’s uncle, Pierre Vorster, said last night that he “was not out of the woods yet”. Alyssa’s sister Meghan is stable and might be discharged on Tuesday.

No one on Clinic Road is safe. Many in the community wonder if they are victims of a plot to drive them off the land.

A resident, Allan Sounes, said at the weekend: “[The criminals] watch your movements. If they wanted to do it for financial gain, they would clean [out] the house when the owners are out. But they are not doing that, they are confrontational and very violent.”

Some people have begun moving out of the area.

A woman who gave her name as Veronica moved out to a shelter after her house was ransacked by seven armed men on August 22. Her tenants now live in a hotel.

A doctor, Anne Biccard, was shot at close range in the chest at around 8.30pm on June 12 by armed men who fled with her iPad, two cellphones and two laptops.

One of her employees said she had called her spouse for assistance, but the robbers shot him in the abdomen when he arrived.

Biccard said she lay on the floor and couldn’t feel her legs.

“I asked a friend of mine to rush me to hospital. As a doctor, I knew I had about 20 minutes before dying,” the 45-year-old said.

Biccard spent 10 days in intensive care. The bullet is still lodged in her spinal cord.

She claims the police never took a statement from her and registered only a case of housebreaking.

Biccard hired a private investigator, who has taken a statement from her and given it to the police.

“One man pulled the cord from one side of my neck, while another pulled from the other side until I fainted,” Winter said.

The men fled with Winter’s car. Police later found it abandoned in another part of Muldersdrift.

The nightmare was, however, not over for the couple.

Six months later, Schroter said, he again discovered people in his house.

Although they beat him up,a fed-up Schroter fought back, and the thugs fled.

Of the 27 plots in this semi-rural community, only two of those have not been affected by a crime incident in the past two years. Many in the community wonder out aloud if they are victims of a plot to drive them off the land.

The situation is so bad that some people have moved out of the area.

A woman who gave her name as Veronica moved to a shelter after her house was ransacked by seven armed men on August 22. Her tenants now live in a hotel.

Another resident, Peter Deetlefs, said he had also moved out of Muldersdrift after nearly being shot – one of many hair-raising encounters he had experienced on Clinic Road.

In another case, a mother had to send her young son for counselling after he had witnessed two violent crimes at home.

No one has been arrested for any of these and other attacks.

Residents complained that the police seemed unmoved about the situation.

But a community leader, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the police had scarce resources.

The man also blamed residents for criticising the police all the time and not working with them to help solve the crime problem.

“Most people complaining have never even been to a community policing forum meeting. Yes, I feel that the police could do better, but people also need to start attending sector meetings,” he said.

The Star sent questions to the police about the incidents.

Provincial spokeswoman Captain Pinky Tsinyane said they could not comment yet as they still had to get information, not only on the recent cases but on previous incidents too.

She said they would compile a report on how the investigations progress and present it to The Star. - The Star