Jack Muller Park mugging: City was warned about poor security, says civic group

Jack Muller Park has an amphitheatre, an outdoor gym and picnic facilities.

The City says it will review security at the Jack Muller Park in Bellville after a woman reported being mugged there while she was visiting the park with her baby.

The municipal park, near the N1, is popular among families, joggers and cyclists.

But frequent visitor Lauren Wilson says she had a scary encounter there on Saturday morning October 30 and wants others who use the park to be vigilant.

“At about 10.30am, I went for a walk with my sister-in-law, a friend and my 18-month-old baby, as we normally do. We were then robbed at gunpoint by two guys who took our phones. This experience has left me traumatised.”

They only found a security guard ten minutes later, but by then the muggers and the cellphones, a Huawei P30 and a Samsung A32, were long gone, she says.

“We went to Bellville police station and we were told to get a police unit at Cool Runnings. When we got them there, they told us our phones were gone by that time and we would need to go to court if they were ever found.”

Ms Wilson says the police showed the group photos of offenders, but none resembled the muggers, who, she believes, entered the park at the gate that leads to Boston’s avenues and then jumped over a fence, where the spikes have been removed, that leads to the N1.

“We also spoke to another guy walking his dog in the park, and he said this was not the first crime incident that he heard of. So I don’t understand why there was only one security guard?”

City spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo says they know about the incident but it’s an isolated one. “This has been the first report of this nature. However, there has been sporadic occurrence of similar incidents in the past.”

He adds that the City will review its security and possibly appoint “additional security resources and law enforcement patrols.”

But Wimpie Els, a member of the Friends of the Jack Muller Park, says they have heard about several robberies at the park and have regularly warned the City about inadequate security there.

“We have reported that security deployment in Jack Muller Park, in comparison to Green Point Park, Elizabeth Park etc is not sufficient. We were told that City budgeting does not allow for more security officers.

“We heard about the robberies and is it of huge concern to us. We are aware of the entry and fleeing of criminals into the park, seemingly to the squatting areas along the N1 highway. We also understand that the upgrading of the Langenhoven fence is due shortly.”

Gerda Gerber, from the Bellville Community Police Forum, says they are also aware of several robberies at the park and not all the crime there is reported to the police.

“There’s been theft out of motor vehicles and allegedly a rape in the parking area at Jack Muller Park. Also not all the crimes at the park are reported to the police and are mostly shared on social media.”

Ms Wilson says she hasn’t opened a police case because “we were told we won’t get our phones back, and if they do get the guys, we would have to attend court and we are not up for that as we are already going through enough at the moment”.

Asked whether Bellville police were aware of recent robberies at the park, the station’s Sergeant Anele Siswa said: “Yes there have been incidents of robberies reported at Jack Muller park. The most recent incident was one where an old lady was exercising with her bags and they robbed her of her belongings.”