Members of the community of Pankop in Mpumalanga say they are living in fear as armed men are seemingly targeting their community. The group targets women who they instruct to undress at gunpoint before they are robbed.
The community says they want the police to deal harshly with criminals, as they have had enough of crime in their area. They are calling on police to do patrols, especially during the night.
Women say they had to walk in groups when they go to and from work.
One victim says, “They took our money and cellphones and they also took our clothes, and they shot me five times on my right leg, they also hit her on the head with the sharp object, we didn’t get any help because people were fearing because they heard gunshots.”
Another one explains, “They told us to give them the phones, the money, and they took our shoes, they were kissing my little sister, touching her all over, then after they told us to leave and do not look back.”
Community activist Peter Mashilane is challenging the government to step up its fight against crime.
“The rate is very high, we had a crisis here at Pankop where people were robbed, by people, they were also armed that is why we are having this meeting, because of this issue now it’s a burning issue, and it becoming a challenge to our community, we are saying enough it’s enough about this crime in our area, I want to see this thing going away, because of now Pankop is becoming a hotspot, everybody is doing as she or he pleased in our community.”
Chairperson of the Community Policing Forum, Peter Phaweni, is calling on police to conduct police patrols in the area to ensure the safety of the community.
“It pains me, cause it’s happened several times, so I am appealing to Pankop community to work together and patrol the area, and we are calling on police to patrol with us, cause these criminals have dangerous weapons, and as a community, we don’t have weapons, I think we will win against this crime.”
A spokesperson for the police in Mpumalanga, Selby Mohlala, appealed to the community to work with police to combat crime in the area.
“The thugs normally in the festive season they try by all means to make as much as money as possible, so they will rob, they bill scam people. Report any stranger behavior to the police, whatever you see that is stranger, like what I just said now, please report that to the police so that the police can come, the stokvel ladies there likely to share money or items during the festive season, what would like to tell them, don’t carry hard cash, you don’t carry hard cash with you, please arrange with the bank to distribute that money to your account, because it is an attraction to the thugs, it is the attraction to the criminals, they will rob you, the money you work hard for.”
Police are calling on the public to take extra care and to support the local neighbourhood watch. -Reporting by Salang Motsepe