The affordable education loan option
Pretoria - Last week, at least two Pretoria advocates were stabbed in the city centre, with others telling how they’ve been threatened at knifepoint and even gunpoint.
Some incidents happened as the lawyers were headed to the High Court Chambers near the High Court in Madiba Street, or to New Court Chambers around the corner in Paul Kruger Street.
Advocate Adriaan Vorster, who was stabbed in the hand on Tuesday when travelling back from court to his chambers in Brooklyn, said people in the city centre were “sitting ducks”, especially when traffic ground to a halt because of extensive roadworks in the city.
Vorster was driving in Bloed Street, his window down, when he stopped for a red traffic light at the intersection of Thabo Sehume (Andries) Street. “The next moment, a man went for me with a knife,” said Vorster, who pushed open the car door on his assailant. “I am sure that was my saving grace, as he only managed to stab me in the hand,” said Vorster. The man ran off.
On the same day, advocate Johan Truter, of the High Court Chambers in Madiba Street, suffered a stab wound to his arm.
He said he’d been on his way to park at Hallmark in Johannes Ramokhoase (Proes) Street, his window slightly open. He was waiting at a red light at the intersection of Thabo Sehume Street when he was approached by two men.
“One man stood close to my front mirror; the other man stuck a knife in my face. The man with the knife tried to grab my cellphone. He tried to get hold of my wallet, which was in my back pocket,” said Truter.
When Truter tried to resist, he was stabbed in the arm. The light changed and he drove on, his arm bleeding. He later went for stitches.
Truter said this was the second time this year he’d been attacked in the CBD while on his way to work.
Contractor Edduan Prinsloo was held at knifepoint at the intersection of Johannes Ramokhoase and Lilian Ngoyi (Van der Walt) Street while on his way to chambers.
“I was in the middle lane and it was packed with cars around me. Two men approached me at once and stood next to my window.
“They stood in such a manner that the other motorists could not see what was happening.
“One of them held a knife against my throat. I got the fright of my life. He demanded my cellphone, which I handed over.”
Prinsloo said that when the light turned green, he drove on and the two men walked off as if nothing had happened.
Lawyer Rosemary Goldener was recently held at gunpoint as she tried to enter the parking lot at chambers on Paul Kruger Street. “It was about 7.40am and I waited for the door of the parking lot to open.
“Next moment, a guy stood at my car, pointing a gun at my head. He took my cellphone and then demanded money. I showed him my purse, which was empty.”
Before leaving, the man warned her to be careful, because next time she would lose her car.
Chambers office manager Deon Geriche said many people at chambers had similar tales to tell. He said it was time for visible policing in the city centre as crime was affecting lawyers’ work, and members of the public were reluctant to come to the city centre for consultations.
These attacks come at a time when police have issued a warning to commuters in and around the CBD to be vigilant when traffic is heavy as criminals are taking advantage of this to steal valuables out of vehicles.
Pretoria Central police spokeswoman Sergeant Ann Poortman urged caution in light of all the construction and roadworks taking place in the CBD.
“Criminals use the opportunity to prey on people who usually open their windows because of the heat while moving at a snail’s pace in the traffic. They like to target women and drivers who are alone in the vehicle,” she said. “We are advising motorists to exercise extra caution when driving through the CBD.”
Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba, the Tshwane Metro Police Department spokesman, said criminals target those who drive with their windows open and whose personal belongings are clearly visible. “If your personal belongings are exposed, they’ll go for you. When people drive during peak hours they must make sure their belongings are hidden from sight,” he said.
Tshwane metro police are de-ployed to monitor the situation during peak traffic. “We cannot do this alone. The public must make sure they keep their belongings safe,” Mahamba added.