Pretoria North community, cops intensify efforts to stop attacks along the R80 highway
Pretoria - Efforts have been intensified to eradicate attacks on motorists, athletes and pedestrians along the R80 (Mabopane) highway.
The community north of the capital has partnered with SAPS, Tshwane Metro Police Department and other structures to root out violent crimes in the area.
The crimes have been happening for some time, but came into the spotlight last week after tow truck drivers and motorists blocked the R80.
They were calling for intensified action to deal with criminals who hid in mountains around the Theo Martin’s Poort and the Magaliesberg range.
They wanted the police to go up the mountains and search for the criminals and intensify investigations.
The efforts led to the arrest of four suspects, Zimbabwean nationals who were aged between 21 and 33.
Tienie Vorster of the Amandasig Action Group and the Akasia Community Policing Forum said they had been patrolling the mountains and the R80 to protect people who may fall prey to crime.
“We had a meeting with the police from Akasia, Rosslyn and Hercules, and the metro police, and we’ve shown commitment to end these crimes before more people are hurt or killed,” Vorster said.
“We know that there were four suspects arrested, but we believe there are more of them.
“We have to now make sure we maximise our efforts because criminals do not rest.
“We are also working with private security companies like Maximum Security and ADT who are also making sure that they patrol notorious around areas like the park on Willem Cruywagen Street.
“This is right next to a mountain where we believe it used to be an entrance for easy access to the mountain. We just want to make sure these guys don’t feel comfortable hiding around our communities and hurting innocent people.”
Tshwane Metro Police Department spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said they were going beyond their mandate to protect citizens.
He said the metro police mandate was to ensure good traffic flow and enforcing by-law compliance, but they would not going to turn a blind eye when people complain that there was crime happening in the mountains.
They have since started patrolling the R80 every morning and in the evening when these crimes mostly happened. Mahamba said they were showing visibility to give motorists better comfort on the road.
Mahamba also complimented the metro police officers praised by the public for stopping when they saw people stuck on the side of the road for various reasons.
“We appreciate the good work done by these metro police officers every time they help people who are stuck, and who wait for them until they are ready to drive away safely. We encourage them to continue doing that,” he added.
Former ward councillor Shawn Wilkinson said these criminals targeted anyone who has something they can sell, such as cellphones. He said they also targeted cyclists because sport bicycles cost as much as R200 000.