We are under siege - Durban residents

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Durban - Mali Govender stood in disbelief as she watched employees wash her husband’s blood from the driveway of their Puntan’s Hill, Springfield, home on Tuesday morning.

She felt a pang of fear when she realised they had become another statistic of the rampant crime in the area.

Like her daughter, Melinda Naidoo, who lives nearby, the family no longer feel safe after Mali’s husband, Tony, was shot in the pelvis and leg on Monday at around 9.15am.

The 62-year old, who runs a home-based hardware company, is recovering at St Augustine’s Hospital. The bullet from his leg was removed but doctors are waiting for his condition to stabilise before the second is taken out.

Traumatised by the incident, both mother and daughter intend relocating from Puntan’s Hill - described by a resident as once being ‘an authentic Indian oriented area’.

Nowadays the residents fear being robbed, hijacked or killed by criminals residing in a nearby informal settlement.

Although Mali and Melinda said not all the shack dwellers could be painted with the same brush, they believed it was likely Tony’s assailants hailed from the settlement, located on their doorsteps.

On Monday Tony heard someone yell out his name. He assumed it was an employee and headed outside but the worker had not called him.

As he was returning indoors two gunmen pounced on him and demanded money.

Melinda, who was inside the house, heard a gunshot.

“I ran to the window and saw the men but not my father. I then rushed to press the panic button and as I was running towards the front door I heard the second gunshot.”

Melinda overheard the duo tell her unconscious dad, they wanted his millions. “I saw them drag my father towards our front gate. They wanted access to our home, but panicked and fled on foot down a pathway leading from Springfield to our house.” She found her elderly father sprawled on the floor, bleeding profusely.

Listening to her daughter recount the events, Mali said: “My husband has lived here all his life and I’m here for 40 years. This is where we raised our children. The shooting has shattered us and I cannot bear to live here anymore.”

Puntan’s Hill resident and chairman of the area’s Shree Ramulu Temple, Mohin Naidoo, said they were under siege.

“Back in the day Puntan’s Hill was regarded as an Indian-oriented area. We lived regular lives like normal people. But times have changed since the informal settlement started more than a decade ago. Things have just gone wrong. “There is petty crime every day, the batteries from our electric gates are stolen and the copper pipes are developing legs.”

Although he, too, believed the crime stemmed from the informal settlement, he said not everyone could be viewed in the same light.

“Most of the shack dwellers are responsible people but it is the criminals who lurk there that taint everyone.”

Naidoo said the temple premises was robbed three times over the past two months.

“The robbers either gain access by breaking the burglar guards and windows, or make their way through the roof.

“They’ve stolen donations, imitation jewellery from the murthis and vandalised the temple. This cannot go on.”

The chairman of the Sector 3 Community Policing Forum (CPF), Logie Naidoo, admitted residents were overwhelmed by crime. “It is time to work together. We have CPF meetings monthly and have encouraged residents to attend but there is no commitment. There are a few of us who patrol the area but the numbers are small.”

The CPF will meet on Thursday at 6.30pm at the eThekwini College at Henry Road, Overport.

Lindela Figlan, the vice president of Abahlali baseMjondolo (shack dwellers) Movement, said criminals used informal settlements to prey on others. “The government must step in and build homes. If this is done, it is hoped criminals no longer have a hideout.”

Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said a case of robbery with aggravating circumstances and attempted murder was opened. - The Post


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