The parents of 4-year-old Taegrin Morris, Elwin and Chantel Morris, sit with their daughter and church members at their home in Reiger Park. Taegrin was killed in a hijacking last Saturday. Picture: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg -

Gauteng Premier David Makhura has blamed residents of Gauteng for the week-long search for the killers of 4-year-old Taegrin Morris.

Makhura claimed some residents were hiding the brutal killers in their homes.

Makhura was speaking about the killing of Taegrin during his budget vote in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature before the boy’s burial on Saturday.

He said the reason it was taking more than a week for the police to arrest the killers was because residents have provided them with shelter to evade arrest.

“What remains a major problem for us is that these criminals are at large and are terrorising our communities.

“Some among us hide them and this means as communities we must work with the police to ensure that we uproot criminals out of our communities and ensure that we create crime-free communities,” Makhura said.

However, Makhura applauded ordinary South Africans and the national and provincial governments for their outpouring of support for the distraught family saying it “helped them to cope with the tragic loss of their last-born”.

“I have called on the security agencies in the province to act swiftly in arresting the perpetrators of this horrendous and heartless crime against women and children,” he said.

The premier also applauded the safe return of another hijack victim, five-year-old Mongezi Phike, who was found at a shelter in Joburg on Monday.

Mongezi and his father were hijacked on July 15 by armed men who brutally assaulted his father and left him for dead on the streets of Bronkhorstspruit.

They then sped off with Mongezi, but he survived the ordeal.

He was found wandering on the streets on Joburg on July 20 and taken to a place of safety.

And he was reunited with his family the following day.

“Our province was in a state of panic because we did know what had happened to him,” Makhura said.

He would be meeting with the MEC of Community of Safety, provincial commissioner of police, and the senior management and law enforcement agencies to strengthen the fight against crime and build a safe and secure province, he said.

MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane will be expected to provide details of her plans to fight woman and child abuse during her budget vote in the legislature next week.

Meanwhile experts say the incidents involving the Morris and Phike families were unusual.

Senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Dr Johan Burger said: “A baby in the car usually delays the hijack. They (hijackers) don’t have the patience to wait until the child is removed from a chair… they only become aware afterwards and usually stop at some place to leave the baby on the side of the road.

“These incidents might create an impression that this is a new trend but it isn’t,” he said.

People should begin to think about what to do when in similar circumstances, he said.

“It’s difficult to say what people should do. The important thing is to alert the hijackers that there is a baby on board.”

He said conducting drill exercises regularly was vital. This includes placing children where it is easy to gain access to them.

He added that it was crucial that motorists were composed as hijackers hated hysteria.

“It attracts unwanted attention. They shoot when they feel threatened. Remember many things could go wrong and that your pleas may not be heard,” he said.

Andre Snyman, founder of e-Blockwatch, agreed with Burger, saying the two incidents were isolated.

He, however, pointed to an escalation of violence related to substance abuse and that this filtered through to hijackings.

“We have definitely seen a violent trend developing where hijackers are very trigger happy. The modus operandi seems to be hijacking when motorists are either driving in our out of their driveways.”

- Saturday Star

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