Johannesburg - Fear of crime has gripped workers and shoppers in the Joburg CBD as the number of violent robberies, some at gunpoint, spiral out of control.
Some of the busiest streets, including Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Lilian Ngoyi, Albertina Sisulu, Commissioner and Small streets have all been identified among the crime hot spot areas in the city.
“At first he cocked the gun and pulled the trigger, but it jammed. The second time he cocked the gun and pulled the trigger but the bullet fell to the ground.”
This was the harrowing experience Independent Media human resource employee *Thando went through on September 24 while trying to pump a flat tyre in the Joburg central police station precinct.
Thando was in the company of three other people at the time.
“We off-ramped from the M1 highway on to Village Road and stopped the car to check it. Two men walked past us and they looked suspicious. As the men I was with attended to the tyre, the two men walked towards us again,” Thando said.
She said the thugs had already drawn their weapons.
“The one guy pointed a gun at my male companions and they ran away. He chased them. At that moment, the other man demanded my car keys and I refused to give them to him.
“He told me that he would shoot me. He failed twice to get a bullet in between my eyes. He then hit me with the gun but I blocked it with my arm,” Thando said.
She managed to run away and said the men broke the front passenger window and stole cellphones and R4800 that was in the cubbyhole.
About 10 other Independent Media employees have fallen victim to crime in the CBD in the past few weeks.
Joburg metro police department (JMPD) spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said Pixley ka Isaka Seme Street was “problematic”.
“The problem area we are currently dealing with is Pixley ka Isaka Seme Street. We've got an anti-crime unit deployed in the area to arrest law breakers and keep people safe. We also have visible policing to deter criminals from attacking people and to give people assurance that it is safe to walk around in the city,” Minnaar said.
“Corner Bree and Pixley (ka Isaka Seme) is a hot spot because there is always congestion there. We have deployed our members there to curb the common robberies targeted at motorists and pedestrians,” he said.
Over the past few weeks, shocking footage showing groups of thugs attacking people in the CBD have emerged. In one such video, eight men are seen pinning a man down as they rob him.
Other people merely watch, something that has become common during these robberies.
Joburg central police station was No1 out of the top 30 police stations with the highest rates of common robberies.
Crime increased by 2% during the 2017/2018 financial year, according to the crime statistics, with 1309 cases reported.
Joburg Central police spokesperson Captain Xoli Mbele said the police were working hard to curb common robberies in the CBD.
“We are also in partnership with private security companies who are able to make arrests and then call the police to take over,” Mbele said.
Minnaar said other crime hot spots where police have been deployed include Smal Street, MTN Taxi Rank, The Bridge, Albertina Sisulu, Commissioner Street, Selby Village and Mandela Bridge.
*Not her real name