Beware of criminals during coronavirus lockdown
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Durban - WITH the police and army expected to throw a dragnet around the country to enforce the 21-day lockdown beginning midnight on Thursday, experts are waiting to see what crime trends will follow in the days ahead.
Institute for Security Studies crime hub manager Lizette Lancaster said criminals would look for opportunities where they would find vulnerable targets.
“That would mean potentially we're most vulnerable in our homes because that’s where we’re all congregated. One has to take precautions and make sure you're aware and alert when you are at home.”
Lancaster said of great concern was that women and children might be locked up with their abusers, and that domestic violence could surge, especially if alcohol is available in homes.
With fewer people commuting, there might be fewer street robberies, but health workers and police officers would be more vulnerable.
Moreover, fraudsters were already operating.
“There's going to be a time when people will want money, and many criminals will take these opportunities to look out for targets,” Lancaster said.
EThekwini Inner South Cluster Commander Major-General Mandlenkosi Chirwa said police would arrest people who transgressed the lockdown regulations.
“Police and other force multipliers will conduct high-visibility operations in Chatsworth, Bayview, Bellair, Malvern, KwaNdengezi, Montclair, Brighton Beach, Mariannhill and Lamontville. Police will intensify visits to liquor outlets, places of worship, shopping malls, as well as restaurants, to ensure compliance,” he said.
Chirwa advised employers who form part of essential services to supply their workers with identification cards, which would assist police at roadblocks and vehicle checkpoints.
People visiting police stations should do so alone, unless it is absolutely necessary to be accompanied. Upon arrival at the police station, people would have to complete an access control register, where temperatures would also be taken.
Phoenix CPF chairperson Umesh Singh said people should contact the CPF if they faced problems or needed assistance during the lockdown.
“Criminals will also have to live and people will have to be aware all the time. With people being indoors and at home, they should be concerned about house robberies and should take whatever precautions are necessary,” he said.
Wentworth CPF chairperson Pastor Donovan Anderson said one of their concerns would be looting and stealing while people were stuck in their houses.
Over the last few weeks, Wentworth has experienced several drive-by shootings and other criminal activity.
“It's stopped at the moment. It's gone very quiet since the shootings we’ve had,” said Anderson.
Chatsworth CPF chairperson Jakes Singh said their members would adhere to a strict dress code in terms of identification during the lockdown. They would be properly identified with name tags, reflector jackets and the CPF golf shirt.
Durban North/uMhlanga CPF chairperson Haden Searles said they had been requested to assist the police, but did not yet know to what extent. They would also act as a liaison between the public and police.
He appealed for protective gear such as masks, gloves and hand sanitisers for volunteers.
“Even if it’s masks that are handmade, we want them to go to the police - the police have nothing the moment,” he said.
Security companies said they would continue operating during the lockdown because they were an essential service.
Marshall Security director Tyron Powell said although their offices would be closed to the public, they would respond to all criminal and medical emergencies.
Fidelity Services Group chief executive Wahl Bartmann said their armed response officers would be on duty. However, some back-office and administrative staff would be scaled back.