Parow rocked by crime

The latest victim in a string of robberies outside the Parow post office has issued a stark warning: go elsewhere if you value your life.

Meanwhile, the Voortrekker Road Corridor Improvement District (VRCID) has written to Community Safety MEC Dan Plato and Mireille Wenge, chairwoman of the provincial parliament standing committee on community safety, about the crime wave in Parow CBD.

Four men mugged the Goodwood woman and her brother-in-law near the post office entrance on Wednesday November 8, at midday.

“As we came out of the post office, a guy looked at me suspiciously and swore at my brother-in-law. One of the guys pulled a knife on my brother-in-law, and the other guy came toward me and ripped my gold chain off my neck. It was a very scary experience, and it left me feeling on edge and rattled,” she said.

The woman does not want her namepublished as she fears reprisals. The mugging was captured by CCTV cameras at a nearby pharmacy, but the footage wasn’t clear enough to identify the robbers.

She said she and her brother-in-law had not been the only victims that day.

“Before they robbed us, they robbed an elderly woman. I had a feeling that they were watching us when we entered the post office, but I did not think they would be so brazen as to rob us in broad daylight. They are not intimidated by people as they operate in packs.”

People should “avoid going” to that post office as it was simply too risky.

“Your life if more important. I have requested that my mail be redirected to Panorama post office.”

While at the police station reporting the robbery, she had overheard a man saying he had also been robbed at the same post office.

On Facebook, several other people told of similar incidents.

Madelein van der Westerhuizen said: “Sorry for your experience. This has been a big problem for quite a while.”

Sonja Harley Lamb said: “No new news. That is the most dangerous part of Parow. Robberies take place there almost daily. It’s a prime area for robberies.”

Sonja Swanepoel said she had been robbed just days earlier, on Thursday November 2, at 1.10pm.

“They almost broke my ribs. They ripped my gold earrings out of my ears. They took out a knife and threatened my father. I screamed so loud that they ran away. I sent the VRCID an email, but I have not received a response yet.”

A business owner in the area since 1989 told Northern News she had had many customers come into her shop crying after being robbed outside of the post office.

“If you don’t have a cellphone, gold necklace or valuable items on you, you should be safe. I want to urge residents to be very security conscious when visiting this area,” she said.

Parow police spokesman Captain Kevin Williams said they had stepped up patrols near the post office after getting regular complaints about robberies there.

“Suspects observe and rob unsuspecting victims, primarily seniors and vulnerable people. We also conduct daily foot patrols,” he said.

The latest police crime statistics – released last month – point to a drop in many of the major crime categories in Parow, but Parow Community Police Forum (CPF) chairman Roger Cannon is on record saying they do not give a “true reflection” and don’t account for the many crimes that go unreported by citizens who have lost faith in the police (“Statistics not true reflection”, Northern News, Wednesday November 1.)

South African batsman JP Duminy’s wife, Sue, and her grandmother fell prey to muggers in the Parow CBD late last month.

They had been leaving the Parow clinic after fetching the 85-year-old woman’s medication when a teenage boy assaulted her and tore a gold chain off her arm. (“Cricketer decries crime after mugging,” Northern News, Wednesday November 1).

Derek Bock, VRCID’s chief operations officer, said their security guards could only patrol the area to deter crime, and they could not post the guards outside the post office permanently because the improvement district had a limited budget and had to patrol the entire area.

“It is the responsibility of Metro police, City law enforcement and SAPS to take the necessary action. This is a known criminal hot-spot area, and the VRCID calls on the City and SAPS to deal with these criminals,” said Mr Bock.

“We need a sustained effort, not just a once-off operation.”

He said the robbers were targeting the elderly, who they knew could not fight back or run away “which shows you how callous they are”.

Ward 2 councillor Leonore van der Walt said she had received similar reports from residents who had been robbed near the post office, and she and other officials had visited the area to assess the problem.

Ms Van der Walt said the collapse of effective and visible policing in Parow was a major concern. She urged residents to conceal their valuables.

Mr Cannon said SAPS and law enforcement had been doing stop-and-search patrols near the post office and mounted police had patrolled there with railway police after the CPF had appealed for greater police visibility.

He advised mugging victims to note any identifying characteristics their assailants might have, such as “clothes, shoes, earrings and tattoos”.

SA Post Office spokesman Deon Louw said: “These are unfortunate incidents. These robberies are however taking place outside the post office in the public area. We recommend reporting such incidents to the police and the local ward councillor.”