Accountability time, Newcastle SAPS and petty crime addressed

Accountability time, Newcastle SAPS and petty crime addressed
"After publishing various articles pertaining to the increase in petty crime throughout Newcastle and addressing the issue with the SAPS, the problem not only continued but has become a normality with people and, according to one Newcastillian, even police, turning a blind eye."

After publishing various articles pertaining to the increase in petty crime throughout Newcastle and addressing the issue with the SAPS, the problem not only continued but has become a normality with people and, according to one Newcastillian, even police, turning a blind eye.

Reflecting on the current situation, on 16 February 2021, the Newcastillian – Online News published an article highlighting that crime in Newcastle, Madadeni, and Osizweni was on the rise—including robberies and theft from motor vehicles. At the time, SAPS Corporate Communications and Liaison Officer Lizzy Arumugam stressed that incidents were on the rise and police would be carrying out operations.

Following this, while assuring the public that police would be conducting more operations to combat crime, people working in the CBD had a different view. According to an article on the Newcastillian – Online News on 8 April 2021, the said local businesses discussed the open crime culture within the CBD. Businesses from Harding Street, Scott Street and Allen Street spoke about how prevalent crime was in the business district. Ironically, the businesses who participated in the article, all emphasised that increased police visibility would deter criminals.

On 20 April 2021, during a media briefing with the Amajuba District SAPS, police discussed upcoming initiatives to address crime within the area. Looking at a more substantial police presence, Brigadier Fred Alexander explained that while the police could not be everywhere, personnel were being deployed to high concentration areas where crimes were more prevalent. Admitting the police needed to look into several matters, Brigadier Alexander enthused he would like to conduct foot patrols to monitor crime and establish issues of concern within the community.

Then, on 26 April 2021, regarding the link between the increase in petty crime and the flurry of local beggars, the SAPS was asked for comment on what they were doing to address the matter? To which they stated, not only are the police conducting regular patrols, but they are also activating informers and working alongside security companies in town to remedy the problem.

Additionally, over the past while, Newcastle residents have endured a spout of gate motor thefts and burglaries. In February and March 2021, the Newcastillian – Online News reported on the matters, addressing the issue with SAPS. In both these articles, the police identified the hotspots affected, with the police going as far as to say that they would be taking the appropriate steps to curb the crime. With significant commitments being made, including establishing a task team for the burglaries and police officials conducting stop and search operations. This coupled with increasing vehicle and foot patrols in an attempt to catch culprits red-handed with the stolen property.

Despite the above mentioned, petty crime still thrives, with law-abiding citizens being targeted by bold suspects, showing absolutely no fear, regardless of witnesses or being in public places. Gone are the days of hidden and sneaky petty crimes, as experienced by one Newcastillian on Monday, 24 May 2021. 

Sharing his story, Muhammed Khan was accosted by a criminal while on his way home from work. Khan explains, he was riding his bicycle on Allen Street, near Taxi City, when an Indian man stopped him. “He grabbed the front of my bicycle and had a knife with him. He said I must give him my money.” Shocked that the suspect had stopped him along the busy road, Khan says he pleaded with pedestrians and nearby bystanders to assist him. However, he affirms, his calls for help went unheeded. Instead, he claimed, “Some people just laughed at me and carried on walking, while others just ignored me.”

What is profoundly troubling, apart from the obvious issue being the crime—according to Khan, various bystanders simply turned around and ignored the robbery taking place in front of them. Furthermore, adding to this Newcastillian’s disturbing experience, two police officers drove past while the theft took place. “They saw what was happening and then looked away, turning a blind eye,” he affirms. 

This left Khan entirely at the suspect’s mercy. Despondent, he explains, “He took my money that was meant for some groceries at home.”

When asked if he had contacted Newcastle Police Station, Khan stated, he had lost faith in local law enforcement. “The police have let me down on more than one occasion. Last year, I was robbed of my cellphone and when I called the police, they actually wanted to lock me up. I have lost hope in them.”

The Newcastle SAPS was contacted for comment regarding the matter. Meetings with heads were requested as far back as the 17th of May 2021. However, despite numerous attempts to acquire statements regarding this concerning situation, none was forthcoming at the time of publication.

What are your thoughts on the above? 

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