While police have had their hands full curbing the illegal sale of cigarettes and liquor during the lockdown, it seems crime in Polokwane showed a dramatic increase in the year prior to March 2020.
This came to light as the national crime statistics were released by the Police Minister, Bheki Cele, last week.
The area has, however, in recent months seen a massive upsurge in violent crimes, including farm attacks, robberies, theft and gender-based violence.
Police confirmed that 5 499 suspects were arrested during the month of July alone, and their capability to fight crime has been tested thoroughly, as robberies, whether personal, residential or business, and stolen vehicles being intercepted in and around the city have shown a remarkable increase in the past two months.
Other incidents worth noting include:
Farm attack on city’s doorstep
An elderly couple survived a violent attack on their farm at Houtboschdorp last week. According to information, the couple were in their house when three gun-wielding suspects gained access and demanded money.
During the process the female victim was struck with a pistol and sustained a serious wound to the forehead. The suspects ransacked the house and fled with a large amount of cash and cell phones. The suspects also tied the couple’s domestic worker and ransacked her room, robbing her of money.
Thugs target cars, bikes
A number of vehicles stolen in other parts of the province or country have been intercepted in the past weeks.
The latest incident involved three suspects who were arrested after a vehicle was hijacked in Lebowakgomo. A source indicated that authorities arrested a suspect who was driving the vehicle two days after the incident. Information then led them to two separate houses where two more suspects were apprehended.
Two gas pistols allegedly used during the hijacking were also found in the vehicle.
In a separate incident, another suspect was arrested for the possession of a suspected stolen vehicle after he was intercepted at the Nelson Mandela circle on Thursday.
The Toyota Corolla was reported stolen in Gauteng and the vehicle was later spotted entering Polokwane.
Theft of motor vehicles and motorcycles has increased in the city in the past year. (See story elsewhere.)
Double CBD robbery – during business hours
On Tuesday morning, taxi operators and pedestrians attempted to apprehend suspects involved in the robbery of a citizen in Hans van Rensburg Street.
According to a shop owner, the victim had been scouted by the suspects in a Renault Clio. “The car went by my car and made a u-turn. Just outside my shop they robbed a person on the pavement. The victim seemingly got such a fright that he also ran away”.
The suspects sped away from the scene and turned into oncoming traffic in Grobler Street in an effort to flee. It was apparently the second robbery the vehicle was involved in on the same morning.
Cops hard at work
Provincial Police Communications Head, Brig Motlafela Mojapelo indicated that 5 499 suspects were arrested during ongoing joint and simultaneous operations conducted in July.
The operatives involved members of various units within the police as well as members of South African National Defence Force, provincial and municipal traffic officers, South African Revenue Service and Department of Home Affairs.
Mojapelo added that the suspects face charges ranging from rape, sexual assault and murder to smuggling of illicit cigarettes and possession of counterfeit or suspected stolen property. Several were apprehended for contravention of the Disaster Management Act.
More than R14 million worth of recovered items such as vehicles, firearms and ammunition, drugs, illicit cigarettes, chrome, dagga, mining machinery and equipment, cell phones and liquor were confiscated. A live pangolin, goats and a leopard skin were also seized.
Story: RC Myburgh