Cape Town - The southern suburbs of Rondebosch East, Crawford and Lansdowne are in the grip of an unprecedented crime wave, with a spree of burglaries, hijackings and violent attacks which have left one man dead and valuables worth thousands of rands missing.
And residents are paranoid, saying they fear for their lives.
In the most brutal attack, late last month, a Rondebosch East resident was stabbed to death in his home.
The 59-year-old victim’s neighbour, Mike Kabat, chairman of the Claremont Community Police Forum (CPF) who discovered the body, said he noticed the victim’s garage door was closed when he left home that day.
When he returned, five minutes later, the garage door was open, which Kabat thought was “strange”.
When Kabat tried to call his neighbour, he got no reply, so he alerted the police.
They entered the house and found the man lying in a pool of his own blood. He had been stabbed multiple times in the neck, shoulders and torso.
The dead man’s
87-year-old mother, unable to speak and suffering from Alzheimer’s, was found unharmed, but two cars and other household items, including a flatscreen TV, had been stolen.
The murder remains under investigation.
Western Cape police spokesman Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana said the police had prioritised serious cases of robbery and related crimes in the area.
“We believe we have made significant strides to ensure that those involved are brought to court to face justice,” he said, revealing that a group of Tanzanians had been apprehended. “Since the arrest of this group, house robberies in the area have decreased.”
In Crawford last Monday, Priscilla Schoulas was burgled in the early hours of the morning.
Returning home after an operation, Schoulas said she was drowsy from strong pain killers. She woke at 5am to chaos; drawers were open and all her valuables had been stolen. The burglars gained access by smashing through her bedroom window.
“I was traumatised… my grandson doesn’t want to sleep over at my home,” she said, adding that she no longer felt safe in her home.
Just a week prior to the murder, another Crawford resident was sitting in his car with a friend when they were approached by three men who held them at gunpoint and demanded the driver get out.
When the man refused, he was pistol-whipped and forced out of the car. The perpetrators jumped in and sped off with the friend still in the passenger seat. He jumped to safety out of the moving car.
The following day Rondebosch East residents Moira and Gregory Harper were burgled at about 8pm after suspects jumped over their security gates, disabled their remotecontrolled entrance and smashed through three doors with a crowbar while the couple were at church. A flatscreen TV, household items and about R2 000 in church savings were stolen from a safe.
Gregory Harper said: “When they decide they want to get into your house, they will get in, no matter what.
And these are experienced gangs… I think they are watching us.”
His wife said she was paranoid and refused to answer their doorbell or speak to strangers.
Edward Doe, deputy chairman of the Athlone and Crawford CPF, blamed a shortage of police staff and the reluctance of the community to get involved. But recent events have led to the creation of two neighbourhood watches for the Crawford and Athlone areas.
“People are disappointed with the lack of police presence, and they’re frustrated… Now people feel if they don’t do anything, it will spread out of control,” he said, adding that they were conducting weekly patrols.
Businesses have also fallen prey to criminals, including the Aroma Drop Inn in Crawford, from which R8 000 in cash was stolen on April 18. Then, last Monday evening, Hassans Superette in Rondebosch East was also hit.
Lansdowne CPF chairman Thetha Sithole said about 15 incidents of theft, hijackings and burglaries had been reported in the past month in Lansdowne alone. He blamed this on the area being a “soft spot”, with little police presence and little community unity.
Now residents have launched an initiative named Land RoE (Lansdowne and Rondebosch East combined), a first of its kind there.
About 80 residents attended a community meeting last Thursday, and spokesman Adam Haupt said they aimed to tackle the scourge.
Christopher Lane, chairman of the Rondebosch East Civic Association, said:
“The recent number of worrying incidents, excluding the five car hijackings this year, have been a wake-up call for many.”
The surrounding areas of Claremont and greater Rondebosch have reported no in-creased criminal activity.