Durban’s highways of terror
This follows numerous attacks - the latest on Wednesday night - on people who had broken down on the notorious part of the highway, particularly along the M19 to the Umgeni interchange and the N2 heading south to the M7.
Police, security companies, community policing forums and tow truck firms have joined forces to help patrol the hotspots.
Roadstar Auto Recoveries tow truck driver, Floyd Doorsamy, who helped the victim on Wednesday evening, when a driver was stabbed a number of times after breaking down, said such attacks were becoming an “every day” occurrence.
“If a vehicle breaks down in that area and you don’t get help within 10 minutes, there is a 99% chance you are going to be attacked,” he said.
“On Wednesday, I was going in the other direction towards Newlands towing a vehicle from an accident when I saw the vehicle stopped across the freeway. It had the bonnet open and steam coming out.
“When I was coming back, I could see what looked like two guys in a scuffle at the side of the road. I pulled over and shouted and one person ran off. As the driver came towards me, there was blood all over his clothes and hands. He was bleeding badly from his shoulder.”
As a member of Emergency Control SA WhatsApp group, Doorsamy called for help. Volunteers from a community policing forum arrived to help and the victim, whose identity was not noted at the time, was taken to Addington Hospital.
RescueCare paramedic, Garrith Jamieson, said such attacks are “very common”.
“We have attended a few incidents and the two hotspots are the N2 north and south near Chesterville, and N2 north and south near Clare Road bridge. The thieves come out of the bush, attack people and then run back.”
Ismail Mitha from Big Show Towing said: “The moment we get a call, we have first responders who are often from community watch groups to come and help. Drivers are being robbed and assaulted and, in one recent incident, a firearm was used.”
He said the attackers waited and watched, often from a higher vantage point.
Rivaaj Ramdas, from private shooting club Tactical Shooting Team, is also involved in patrolling the freeway. He said attacks were opportunistic crimes, thus difficult to police.
“It’s become so serious, we have put together a team to assist police which includes security companies and other emergency authorities and civil society. We abide by the law and the idea is that this approach is multi-tasked.
“If you break down, call for assistance and send your location to as many people as possible via WhatsApp or Facebook; a family member or friend may be close by. If you have a flat tyre, carry on driving to a secure place.”
Rodney Moodley, from Inkosi Security, whose vehicles patrol the M19, said: “It’s very dangerous. These guys sit on the hill and watch in both directions. As soon as a car pulls over to the side, they run down to the vehicle. They often work in groups of three or four, one will have a firearm, and the others will have knives or bush knives,” he said.
KZN SAPS spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane, said police were carrying out regular patrols along the stretch of highway.
“We are aware of the crimes that are commonly being reported along the N2 freeway. We appeal to motorists to take extra precautions,” he said.
The Automobile Association of SA spokesperson, Layton Beard, said motorists must ensure their vehicles are in good working condition.
“Avoid getting into situations such as running out of fuel, keep a check on tyres, fuel, oil and engine. Motorists can also avoid hot spots by taking an alternative route, even if it means your journey may take longer,” said Layton.
Apart from Wednesday’s stabbing, other recent incidents being reported on WhatsApp crime groups include:
* Driver stabbed under Clare Road Bridge after some car trouble. Assaulted and stabbed by vagrants;
* N2 south past the Queen Nandi Bridge, a motorist whose car broke down was attacked by a man with a rock and sustained injuries. Work colleagues arrived to assist and the suspect fled.
* A breakdown on M19 on Mountbatten Bridge, driver was stabbed;
* Report from a passer-by of a broken down vehicle on the N2 heading north before Spaghetti Junction and the driver being robbed by people in a vehicle that stopped behind him.Independent on Saturday