Friday, 19 October 2007

Crime-hit suburb puts up barriers

Graeme Hosken

October 19 2007 at 09:27AM

Fed up with crime, residents in Lynnwood Manor, Pretoria are taking no more chances. Oil drums line the roads leading in to the suburb to stop vehicles while security guards carrying two-way radios check the credentials of their occupants before they are allowed in.

"This is the final frontier. If we do not do this, more blood is going to be spilt," said community leader Dr Kevin Gast after armed thugs killed three people, seriously injured a three-year-old toddler and looted the homes of four residents - all during a four-day crime wave.

The barricades were erected as police on Thursday arrested two men wanted in connection with murder, rape and house robbery.

Inspector Klaas van der Kooi said flying squad members were patrolling Lynnwood when they arrested the men and seized an unlicensed Z88 pistol and two cars.

Police have arrested two men for murder, rape and robbery

The "checkpoints" have followed the torture, rape and murder of Cathy Odendaal (51) whose naked and battered body was found on Tuesday in herFarnham Street home.

Before her murder gunmen held up Farnham Street resident Musa Ebrahim on Saturday and shot his domestic worker's three-year-old toddler before fleeing with laptop computes and cellphones.

Only hours earlier, a Lynnwood Manor gardener was shot dead on the corner of Lynnwood Road and Camelia Streets and a resident gunned down in his Camelia Street driveway.

And only days before that, Gudrun Graf and Anna Pretorius were attacked in their Priory Street complex by men armed with a crowbar.

In August, musician Francois Viljoen (25) was killed at his home in Glenwood Street and Dawn Street resident Cilliers Snyman (68) was shot dead. Frans Jacobs was seriously injured in his Old Fort home.

Residents were in a heated stand-off with the Tshwane Metro Police

Gast and Lynnwood Manor residents were on Thursday involved in a heated stand-off with the Tshwane Metro Police who tried to remove the barricades. Gast has vowed that the barriers will not come down until the Tshwane Metro Council "guarantees" the safety of all residents.

"Until we know that blood will not be spilt and that the council will accept full responsibility for protecting our lives and property, these barriers will stay.

"We are tired of the murder and mayhem. We are telling the council that we are not going to wait another 10 years for it to deliberate on whether we can or cannot have a gated community," he said.

An urgent application has been made by the community to the Pretoria High Court to compel the council to allow them to "gate" their suburb.

Gast, referring to the makeshift access controls, said they were created "to stop the bloodshed".

"We are going to fight to keep them. We are doing whatever it takes to protect our lives and property. We have no other way of surviving."

He added that the barricades were not blockades but merely access control points. It was up to the guards to decide who entered the area.

"If a person does not have a disc then they will have to explain why they are there. If the guard is suspicious then the person will not be allowed in," he said.

The Freedom Front Plus, supporting the initiative, said it was encouraging Pretoria's residents to create security neighbourhoods to protect themselves - "with or without the approval of the Tshwane metro council".

FF+ councillor Conrad Beyers said: "The FF+ will assist communities with legal advice if the metro council wants to break down their security fences.

"From Lynnwood to Centurion, Eersterus to Mamelodi, there should be secure communities. Crime knows no colour and the moratorium on security neighbourhoods is a moratorium on the personal freedom and safety of all residents," Beyers added.

Metro police spokesperson Louise Brits said they were waiting to see legal documents before making decided whether the barricades would stay.

This article was originally published on page 4 of Pretoria News on October 19, 2007


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