We’ll deal with criminals ourselves, threaten Faerie Glen residents

Pretoria – Residents of Faerie Glen in Pretoria East have threatened to take matters into their own hands to deal with an increase in crime in the area if police did not intervene.

They said the community was being held hostage by criminals after a surge in housebreakings and muggings over the past few months.

Reports of crime from the suburb and nearby Faerie Glen Nature Reserve have emerged, with the first crime inside the reserve taking place two weeks ago after a 10-year record of safety and security.

A woman was attacked while running on the trail in the reserve and all her gear, including shoes, cellphone, hydration backpack and sunglasses were taken.

Warnings began going up on social media, where trail runners were asked to be cautious and not to run on their own, as criminals, often wielding knives and wearing balaclavas, were on the prowl.

The criminals are said to gain entry into the nature reserve through Atterbury Bridge and using the Manitoba Bridge to gain access to the rest of the nature reserve and into the homes along its periphery.

20/07/2017. Manitoba bridge inside the Faerie Glen Nature Reserve which criminals use to gain accessto houses on the perifery.
Picture: Bongani Shilulbanen

Homes hit are those located on the eastern side and last week residents said they were fed up with what they perceived as a lack of police action.

“We are going to be using maximum force to protect ourselves from these thugs.”

“Extreme situations require extreme measures,” said a resident who lives opposite the nature reserve in Glenwood Street.

He said on two occasions he had spotted burglars in his yard.

“They have stolen my hose pipe and rake,” he said.

Kefentse Mompei who lives adjacent to the reserve, said criminals were now becoming arrogant and doing as they pleased. Her clothes were stolen off her washing line, she said.

She said Faerie Glen Nature Reserve opposite her residential complex provided a hiding place for criminals.

“What is sad is that a resident will end up shooting and killing the perpetrators and they will be jailed for protecting their family,” said Mompei.

Community members said they were fed up and wanted a public meeting with police as soon as possible to discuss the setting-up of foot patrols.

Other residents said despite a police station being close to their homes they no longer felt safe.

Resident Maralise Louw said they wanted to call on all men in the community to come out and assist people going to work to protect them from being attacked.

“And also for men to go to the gates of the schools to make sure children going to school do so safely,” she said.

The chairperson of the Friends of the Faerie Glen Nature Reserve, Louise Kritzinger, said the fences along January Masilela, Glenwood and Manitoba roads needed maintenance.

The opening under the Atterbury Bridge which criminals use to gain access to Faerie Glen Nature Reserve. Picture: Bongani Shilulbanen

 

She said the makeshift fence, made of thin wooden poles, under the Atterbury Bridge needed to be reinforced properly if it was to keep criminals out.

A bushy area situated close to the Atterbury Bridge is where the criminals lived, the Pretoria News was told.

“We are going to suggest that the metro police remove the vagrants,” Kritzinger said.

The reserve was fenced off over a period of about five years from 2002, said Kritzinger.

Residents attributed the increase in crime in the area to development on the northern side of the reserve, adjacent to Lynnwood Road.

They said builders and job seekers had flooded into the area, leading to squatting on the mountain.

According to Kritzinger, after those developments were finished some people continued to live in the bushes, but they were removed from the reserve by mounted police patrols in 2006 and 2007.

Councillor Ernst Botha from Ward 44 said he had been in constant contact with Lieutenant Colonel Kervin Solomon of Garsfontein police, requesting intervention.

A meeting had yet to be set up, he said.

“As you may have become aware, Faerie Glen Nature Reserve has recently become a hot spot for criminal elements; myself and Councillor Pieter van Heerden from Ward 46, adjacent to Ward 44, have collectively been in discussions with various stakeholders to try to curb crime in the area,” said Botha.

They have also taken it up with the top structures within the city, including the departments of Community Safety, Emergency Services and the chairperson of Community Safety.

The city and police had not responded on the soaring crime rate by late on Sunday afternoon.

BY SAKHILE NDLAZI: Pretoria News/IOL


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