Fee bearing image – Cape Town – 140826 – Vendors making a living on selling vegetables and accessories in Mitchells Plain Town Centre says that business is bad because of crime in the area. Reporter: Xolani Koyana. Photographer: Armand Hough

Cape Town - Traders in the Mitchells Plain Town Centre are concerned at the growing number of robberies, saying criminal incidents had become an almost daily occurrence.

Hawkers are still reeling from the death of Mark van der Brook, 38, a security guard, who was shot dead last Monday while chasing two men who had robbed Sterns.

Three days later, four men were arrested after attempting to escape after robbing the same shop and holding the staff hostage. They tried to shoot their way out of the shop before they were foiled.

There were several bullet holes in the front window of the jewellery store.

The four men appeared at the Mitchells Plain Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

In July, a Jet store next to the Sterns was broken into in the early hours.

Traders said the growing incidence of crime was affecting their businesses.

Hashim Daniels, who runs his mother’s fruit and vegetable stall, said burglaries and robberies at the centre were almost a daily occurrence. His stall is located nearby the Sterns store.

“If it’s not a shop being robbed, then a delivery truck is robbed,” he said.

“The police (station) is right here. They are a stone’s throw away but you don’t see them here. Slowly but surely, the crime will affect the centre badly.

“Two or three years ago, business was booming and now things are going badly. Yeah, there was crime but it was not this bad.”

Daniels felt the government had failed the people in Mitchells Plain because it was not doing enough to ensure their safety.

He said because of the high crime rate, many consumers preferred to shop at the nearby Promenade Mall because it had visible security.

“There is no security here,” said Gabriel Vermeulen, a hawker who has been trading at the centre for the past 30 years.

“Our main security guard is gone. Mark was really good and he cared for the safety of the people here.

“The crime is really affecting us badly. Our businesses are suffering because customers know there’s a lot of crime in the area.

“The Sterns guys packed up on Monday. I think they have had enough with the robberies,” Vermeulen said.

Hawkers said Sterns has been robbed five times since the beginning of the year.

Vermeulen said the hawkers had also complained to the police about the sale and use of drugs at the town centre but nothing much had been done about it.

Police spokesman Frederick van Wyk said Mitchells Plain cluster commander Major-General Greg Goss, who took up his post on Monday, would be looking at the issue of safety at the centre after analysing the Van der Brook murder case.

“On the same day, he arranged a meeting with various role players including the metro police who through video footage could point out some hot spots within the Town Centre. Work had to be done to establish a sound relationship between businesses and the South African Police Service in Mitchells Plain,” Van Wyk said.

He said Goss had deployed additional members to the centre to provide vehicle support to businesses.

Anyone with information on the murder case could call Mitchells Plain police on 021 370 1706.

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Cape Times