Housing project a ‘crime trap’

Blood splatters mark the spot where Cinga Qotyi, 25, was stabbed to death on Sunday, March 8.

A state-subsidised housing project in Highbury has become a crime trap, according to the neighbourhood watch, which says there’s been a murder and a spate of muggings and burglaries there in the six months since the first residents moved in.

Riverside Gardens residents were left shaken after Cinga Qotyi was stabbed to death on his 25th birthday, on Sunday March 8.

According to Cinga’s brother, Pakamisa Kweswa, Cinga was walking among a group of churchgoers when eight men came from behind and attacked them

They stabbed Cinga in the elbow and back and he collapsed at a bridge connecting Highbury to Vrygrond, Kalkfontein and Wesbank.

Cinga was found without shoes in a pool of his own blood.

“When we got to the scene, my brother’s lifeless body lay there, and all I was concerned about was his 2-year-old daughter who he loved dearly,” said Mr Kweswa.

His brother would be remembered for his love of dancing, he said. Cinga had dreamt of one day starting his own dancing school.

“My brother was not involved in gangs and was always jovial and loving. He had no intention to cause harm to anybody.”

A memorial service will be held tonight (March 18) at the Corner Stone Ministry Church in Rhine Road, Delft at 7pm.

A resident, Ivan Olierslaager, said he was lucky to be alive after a scuffle with muggers on Thursday March 5.

He had been walking home with his 11-year-old son when two men had started beating them, demanding their valuables.

“I told my son to run home, and I continued fighting them off. My son is still traumatised to this day.”

The muggers had hit him with a pole before reaching for a knife to stab him, but he had managed to get loose and run off.

“I think they left me because I had nothing,” he said.

Mr Olierslaager suffered multiple injuries and has stitches above his left eye.

“It’s really not safe here, people are facing robberies nearly everyday.”

The Riverside Gardens neighbourhood watch now advises residents to stay clear of the bridge where Cinga Qotyi was stabbed to death. Watch spokesman Brian Papier said robberies and burglaries had risen since residents had moved into the complex six months ago.

Formerly known as Highbury Phase 3, the complex is a mix of 264 Breaking New Ground houses, 100 military-veteran houses and 100 Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme houses.

The first homeowners moved in on Friday September 13 last year (“New homes bring joy to the elderly,” September 18,2019).

Residents, including children on their way to school, use the bridge as a short-cut, but Mr Papier said it was no longer safe to do so. It was safer, he said, to use the busy main roads to get around the community.

Houses were being broken into – two on the same day on Friday March 13 – and the fencing around the complex was being stolen piece by piece, he said.

“As the neighbourhood watch, we are trying our best to protect the community, but most of the time the criminals are right under our noses and are from around here.”

More residents needed to help the watch patrol the complex, he said.

Kuils River police did not respond to requests for comment.