Regular visitors to Sterland Mall in Arcadia have said more police need to patrol. Picture: Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)
Do you feel safe going out at night? This is the question on many residents’ minds after the mindless killing of young actor Sibusiso Khwinana after a movie screening at Sterland in Arcadia, Pretoria, just over a week ago.

The funeral service for the star of the local coming-of-age film Matwetwe is being held on Saturday following a Thursday memorial service.

Before the service, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, offered condolences to the heartbroken Khwinana family, and said police had identified three suspects they were trying to track down.

According to police, Khwinana and a friend and fellow actor were accosted by the suspects who wanted to rob them of their possessions. It is believed Khwinana, 25, was stabbed in the upper body during a tussle with the suspects for his cellphone who fled soon afterwards. He died at the scene.

Regular visitors to Sterland, at the intersection of Pretorius and Steve Biko streets, have said the area is a crime hotspot, especially at night.

Sibusiso Khwinana

A week after the crime, however, the centre was busy, with people sitting on the steps at its entrance - close to where Khwinana was standing.

A car guard, who identified himself only as Rocky, had a lot to say about crime in the area.

“Crime here is rife. I’m not surprised this happened because even in the afternoon they can mug you. It starts with the thugs tracking your movements and, as soon they see you sitting on those steps, they immediately start planning.

“It doesn’t matter whether it is in the afternoon or at night, they can rob you any time of the day. I used to help when I saw students getting mugged, but I’ve stopped because I ended up being arrested,” he said.

He showed a team from Pretoria News the actual spot where Khwinana apparently died.

While he was not there on the night, Rocky said he heard the actor had been stabbed while waiting on the steps and died there.

“His family came the following day to collect his spirit; I saw everything.”

A regular at the mall said she had been mugged twice - once at night and once in the afternoon - which made her more vigilant. She has resorted to not carrying a handbag.

“The first incident happened in the afternoon; some guy just approached me while I was on the phone and snatched it. When I tried fighting for it he slapped me and ran away. This place is very dangerous especially at night, so I no longer watch movies or shop late. I don’t carry a handbag anymore because I know the thugs might snatch it.”

Sandile Mbatha said he had been a victim of crime in the area: “That place is a crime hotspot, police must patrol more often. I was also attacked in the area over my cellphone. I was stabbed and I spent five days in hospital.

“Of those five days, I was in ICU for three days and I spent two days in the recovery ward. “

When the Pretoria News contacted the shopping centre management for comment, a spokesperson said it would respond when it had a plan in place.

Pretoria News