The Mhlabuyalingana Community Policing Forum (CPF) has expressed concern over the increase in armed robberies at a time when people are being encouraged to stay home because of COVID-19.
Deputy chairperson, Professor Xolani Zikhali, says in Mkhanyakude armed criminals sometimes pounce on people while at home and take whatever possessions they want.
“On the surface it seems like the crime rate is currently down. However, when you look at issues on the ground – people are bearing the brunt of criminal activities in communities,” he says.
Prof Zikhali says drug abuse is sometimes behind the crimes.
While acknowledging a decrease in car hijackings due to increased police visibility and the current curfew aimed at limiting movement as the country continues to battle COVID-19, Zikhali is worried about people who continue selling alcohol despite the current ban on sales.
“This leads to people breaking the curfew as they congregate at those places to drink.”
Zikhali is urging community members to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and stop breaking the law.
The Anti-Vehicle Trafficking Unit in Umkhanyakude, in KwaZulu-Natal, says car theft has dropped significantly under level 3 lockdown.
The unit’s chairperson Joseph Ngubane is attributing the good news to roadblocks and increased police visibility.
The cars are normally stolen in various parts of South Africa and taken to Mozambique via Jozini.
Last year, tired of hijackings, residents in the district took the streets, calling for more action to end hijackings in the area.
They also beat up men believed to be part of a car syndicate, who gave up the names of law enforcement officers accused of involvement in the trafficking of cars.
“It was really bad before the lockdown but now things are much better. The hijackers are people who live among us and are now cautious because the police are all over. Roadblocks all over the country are also helpful because at the borders – they have been passing through despite patrols,” Ngubane says.
He hopes for more roadblocks along the border posts in Mkhanyakude.
“Although we understand that budgetary constrains could prevent the deployment of more police officers – we believe the roadblocks will really keep the crime levels down.”
He has also lamented the passing of KwaZulu-Natal Transport and Community Safety and Liaison MEC, Bheki Ntuli.
Ngubane says Ntuli was committed to crime fighting and at the time of his passing – they were planning a meeting to find lasting solutions to vehicle trafficking.
Ntuli died of COVID-19 related complications recently and was laid to rest on Thursday.