Sunday, 16 July 2006

Family's crime hell

July 15 2006 at 01:54PM

By Fiona Gounden

The crime wave sweeping the country has hit a Durban family hard - seven of them are recent victims.

David Knibbs, 54, a fire protection supervisor, and partner Sandra Haley, 48, an administration clerk in Umbilo, and their children, one as young as 10, have been victims of various crimes including stabbings, housebreaking, theft and muggings.

The latest incident was last Friday night when David's younger son Kenneth, 27, a welder who lives in Morningside, was stabbed after withdrawing money at an ATM in Florida Road.

'It's sad that people need to leave the country to avoid being a victim'

He had withdrawn the money and got back into his car when three men, one carrying a gun and the other two with knives, forced their way into the car. They took his cellphone and wallet containing cash and bank cards and stabbed him in the arm. He was with his girlfriend, Megan Ramb, 25, who was traumatised after the incident. The thieves fled. David said the incident had been traumatic for the young couple.

"It all happened so fast. He's recovering from the incident and is wary about where he goes now."

Before that, there had been a number of incidents affecting other members of the family.

David's Ford Bantam bakkie has been stolen twice in the past five months, the first time outside his flat in Umbilo in March. Police found the vehicle abandoned in Newlands. It was stolen again in June and never found.

David's elder son Raymond, 30, who lives in Greyville, bought a car in January which was stolen 15 minutes later in Morningside.

"His wife had just given birth to a baby and he took a loan of R18 000 to buy the car. Now he has no transport to take his baby to the doctor. He still has to pay back the loan. It's just not fair what these criminals are doing to us," said David, adding that people needed to speak out if they had been victims of crime.

"Almost every person I speak to has been a victim of crime. The sad thing is that they don't come out in the open with it. Only when I tell them what has happened to me do they say they have been victims too. People need to be able to speak about their experiences."

Sandra's daughter, Tyla, 10 has also had her share. She went to a nearby bottle store in Umbilo to buy a cold drink from a vending machine. The store was held up by armed criminals and Tyla had to duck for cover. She is being counselled.

Taryn, 19, Sandra's second daughter, and her fiancé Kevin Griffin, have been held up twice while walking through Umbilo Park to get to the Cato Manor Technical College. The first incident took place in August last year when they were walking with Kevin's brother Wayne.

Four armed men held them up and stole their belongings.

In the second incident, in February, Taryn and Kevin were walking through the park when again three armed men held them up and took their cellphones and wallets containing their cash and cards.

In April, Wayne was robbed by an armed man in the same park. The family went through yet another ordeal when their Umbilo flat was burgled while they were asleep.

The flat in which David, Sandra and her daughters Tyla, Taryn and Taryn's boyfriend Kevin live, was targeted by criminals in February. The burglars climbed up a drainpipe to their third floor flat and stole appliances and other valuables.

The only member of the family who has not been a victim is Sandra's daughter Charlene Becker, 25, who has been living in London for two years and is grateful that she left the country when she did.

"My daughter had to leave the country to feel safe. We can't take much more of this. It's sad that people need to leave the country to avoid being a victim. I don't know how much more of this we can take. The crime situation in the city is crazy and it's chasing everyone away. My parents live on a farm at the Eastern Cape and they don't experience such things," said Sandra.

Taryn and Kevin are emigrating to the United Kingdom to escape the crime in Durban. In the meantime David and Sandra are hoping criminals won't target any more of their family.

"We've been through so much already and I pray to God nobody else in our family falls prey to these criminals. We've really had enough," said David.

This article was originally published on page 3 of The Independent on Saturday on July 15, 2006


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