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One of the offices at Polokwane Observer after Sunday night’s burglary.

CRIME WAVE: Tsunami of devastating burglaries takes toll over many months

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A devastating crime wave that took its toll this past weekend when a host of burglaries was orchestrated across the city centre has business owners on the edge about the prevalence of such incidents and the inability of law enforcers to combat the rising tide.
The Police and security outfits are perceived to be lacking in adequately addressing and combating a problem that is seemingly spiralling out of control.
This past weekend alone saw close to ten entities hit or targeted in attempted burglaries across a portion of the Central Business District (CBD) stretching from Suid to Excelsior Street and General Joubert to Voortrekker Street.
No one appears to be immune against the relentless onslaught, as the victims range from political parties to a soccer club and a primary school. Polokwane
Observer ironically became part of statistics too when burglars closed in during the course of Sunday night to claim the company’s server and more than 20 computers valued at an estimated
R250 000.
Next door at Black Leopards Football Club computers, files and equipment of an undisclosed amount were reported to be stolen around the same time.
Speaking to Herbert Rachuene, Black Leopards FC spokesperson Berry Ramunenyiwa stressed that they had found it strange that the alarm had not been triggered and that they suspected an inside job.
At Pietersburg Laerskool in Voortrekker Street alarm was raised after 25 chairs and electric cables were allegedly stolen from a classroom on Saturday night, while another classroom had seemingly been burgled again on Monday night when thieves took everything but the tables and chairs. According to principal Peet Bredenkamp it has been the tenth burglary at the school since October 2016.
At the provincial headquarters of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Makwela & Mabotja Attorneys in the main street attempts to gain access to the two premises prior to and on the weekend respectively posed to be unsuccessful for burglars who left empty-handed but still reportedly damaged window panes. EFF Provincial Secretary Jossey Buthane said to his knowledge it was the first incident of its kind at their offices and added the matter was in the hands of the Police. Ludwick Mabotja of Makwela & Mabotja Attorneys said the incident during which glass panes were broken and nothing stolen last Thursday night was the second since 10 February. He raised suspicion about recently changing residential patterns in the area being a possible contributing factor to their firm having been regularly targeted since the beginning of the year.
A businessman with a concern in Marshall Street relayed the story of an attempted burglary at his offices resulting in damage to a slam door some time on the weekend. When the thugs were unsuccessful they proceeded to a neighbouring business where they apparently stole computer screens, he said.
Further afield in Excelsior Street firearm traders Arms For Africa fell victim to criminals who gained access to their property by removing a panel in the exterior wall at the back of the business on Sunday night. According to owner Marius du Preez chairs, desks and a trolley were stolen from the training facility.
Three phone calls to the general 10111 number had repeatedly connected him to the Police in Gauteng, he said and after having informed the Police of the incident they had not yet been to the business by the time of going to press.
In its investigation Polokwane Observer was given the lead to Procost Quantity Surveyors in Hans van Rensburg Street where burglars have hit four times since the beginning of last year, it was learnt. According to quantity surveyor Mash Ledwaba he had discovered two incidents on Saturdays around September/October last year and in January this year respectively. They have lost a lawn mower and 10 wheelbarrows that were removed from a back room during the incidents while suffering damages to glass panes and doors.
While role players who were interviewed alluded to security companies not reacting timely or monitoring security threats brought to their attention, the deployment of resources by the Police was raised as a general concern. While it is being argued that resources shouldn’t be used as an excuse for delays in reaction time, sources in Limpopo Police ranks highlighted the hampering of service delivery – both in the city and remote rural locale – due to lack of manpower, resources and expertise.
Polokwane Observer was given a copy of a strong-worded circular issued by Provincial Police Commissioner Nneke Ledwaba on 1 March wherein he addressed the matter of transport. He stressed that Police management had noted with regret that there were still members who spread wrong information about the shortage of transport in the service. He referred to 212 vehicles having been distributed to various clusters, stations and units to alleviate the shortage of transport.
“The process is ongoing and the issue of lack of transport is being addressed at the highest level and members must use transport sparingly.
“However, no member can outrightly hide behind the lack of transport instead of assisting members of the community and provide the service.” He warned that steps would be taken against any member portraying the Police in a negative way.
Ironically it was Ledwaba himself who was perceived to be ignoring the threat of possible bloodshed that loomed in a downtown taxi rank on Sunday when he failed to secure backup for a group of close to 90 taxi operators from Gauteng requesting Police to enforce a court order allowing them to load passengers. (See story elsewhere)
Commenting on the matter Provincial Police Spokesperson Mamphaswa Seabi responded saying he couldn’t confirm the statistics with regard to the incidents on the weekend. He said one incident of housebreaking was one too many and as a result they had put in place strategies to fight all crimes, including housebreaking and theft but were appealing to the community to support them with quality and reliable information about all problematic crimes to enable the Police to deal with it.

Story:
YOLANDE NEL
>>observer.yolande@gmail.com
RC Myburgh
>>rc.observer@gmail.com