Durban — Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa) believes three suspects it has arrested are the alleged kingpins involved in a spate of Verulam central business district robberies and stabbings.
Earlier, Rusa had urged the public to be on high alert when entering the Verulam CBD following the spate of robberies and stabbings.
Rusa spokesperson Prem Balram said three suspects who had allegedly been terrorising the Verulam CBD for months had been arrested by Rusa members on Thursday morning.
He said the suspects, who had allegedly robbed and stabbed victims for months, were nabbed by reaction officers, who arrested them in a planned operation on Thursday morning.
He also said that after interviewing several victims and viewing CCTV footage from several businesses in the central business district, reaction officers singled out three men who were believed to be the perpetrators.
The officers monitored the area frequented by the suspects from early hours of Thursday and they were spotted entering the Verulam CBD after sunrise. They remained close to bush on the R102 near the bus/taxi rank for several hours and entered Moss Street at 10.47am. The officers then called for back-up.
“Officers converged on the area blocking off all entry/exits and one suspect was arrested at the corner of Moss/Ireland Street. The remaining two suspects fled towards the bus/taxi rank in an attempt to flee into the bush. They were intercepted by reaction officers stationed at that point,” Balram said.
“All three suspects were allegedly found in possession of knives and stolen bank cards. The white T-shirt of the kingpin was allegedly found with blood stains.
“A 19-year-old victim that was stabbed several times yesterday (on Wednesday) on Todd Street identified the three men ... as the perpetrators that had attacked and robbed him.”
Balram said that since January 2022, Rusa had attended to approximately 300 cases of robbery/stabbing and other crime-related cases in the Verulam CBD.
He said during an interview, one suspect allegedly confirmed that he was present during the robbery and stabbing.
The suspect had informed reaction officers that he “had not stabbed the victim” but had “benefited R300 in cash from the sale of his phone”, and allegedly blamed the other two suspects for “attempting to kill the victim”.
He said the three suspects were handed over to the police, and weapons that the reaction officers had found were also given to them.
Police spokesperson Constable Thenjiswa Ngcobo said: “We can confirm that two suspects were arrested for robbery and will appear in court soon. It is alleged that the suspects robbed a man of his cell phone yesterday (Wednesday).”
Balram said reaction officers have been responding to at least four or five robberies or stabbings on a daily basis.
He said the three male suspects were believed to be drug users.
“In some incidents, victims are stabbed prior to being robbed. The gang consists of four or five individuals. Their modus operandi is to gang up on unsuspecting pedestrians. They would either stab their victim first or rob them of their valuables and then attack. In most cases, victims are reluctant to register criminal cases,” Balram said.
He said the 19-year-old who was stabbed and robbed on Wednesday had been looking for employment.
Balram said the attackers fled with his Samsung cellphone and backpack containing his wallet. The victim received medical attention on the scene. His empty backpack was recovered by Rusa officers in bush along the R102.