By Sakhile Ndozi | IOL |
Fear gripped residents of Garsfontein, east of the city, on Wednesday following the murder of two people during an apparent house robbery, which left three others seriously injured.
The atmosphere was tense for most of the day, with many residents choosing to lock themselves inside their houses and making plans to beef up their already sturdy security.
The attack believed to have been carried out by three men occurred at about midnight.
The intruders broke into a Mias Street home, seemingly through the garage. They tied the five occupants of the house up and stabbed them. The suspects escaped in the family car with two TVs and other household electrical appliances. The car was later recovered in Yeoville, Joburg, by a vehicle tracking company.
Two women, one believed to be the helper, and the other, the partner of the homeowner, a senior official in the Department of Tourism, were killed.
The man and his daughter, both of whom survived, remained in a critical but stable condition in hospital. The fifth victim, a female, escaped with slight injuries.
Police were notified of the incident by neighbours, who said they were woken up by screams.
A terrified neighbour, who lives on the same street, said she felt terrible that this could happen in their community.
The area was recently rocked by a series of house robberies, apparently by a man identified as the “fence ninja” for his antics of scaling fences, jumping over walls and breaking into houses.
He had been terrorising the neighbourhood for months, stealing household items and disappearing into the night.
The suspect was captured on Sunday morning by a group of residents and a security company. Police were called and he was taken to the police station, but later released without being charged.
This angered residents, who vowed to gather evidence that the captured man was the ninja.
Police spokesperson Captain Ilze Jones ruled out a link between the “fence ninja” and Wednesday’s assault and murders. At least 16 cases have been registered against the ninja.
Residents pleaded for protection, saying they felt not enough was being done to ensure their safety.
“As the people Garsfontein we are very concerned. We feel we are being targeted here,” a resident said.
ADT security, which provides security to the home in question, reported receiving an emergency call at around 12.30am.
Two reaction officers were dispatched to the scene They discovered that the main and pedestrian gates were open, and so was the main wooden door. They found signs of forced entry.
ADT contacted Netcare and paramedics treated the injured before taking them to Pretoria East Hospital.
Neighbour Roy Devenish said he and his family had lived in Garsfontein for over 30 years and had only been aware of isolated instances of crime.
“However, in the last few weeks and months we have been subjected to a feeling of living under threat.“
In recent days a neighbour’s dog had been poisoned; there had been two break-in attempts at another neighbour’s house. Another resident found a stranger in her yard.
“We have upped our security considerably. But it has not really brought peace of mind or a sense of safety; and now this attack. We would like to extend our sympathies to the family attacked on Wednesday night ,” he said.
Netcare 911’s Chris Botha said: “When we arrived we found five people were tied up, assaulted and stabbed. Two died on the scene and three others are in hospital.”
Police have launched a massive manhunt. No arrests have been made.
Anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee and residents hosted a night vigil for 30 minutes outside the Garsfontein police station.
Just over 50 residents gathered at the police station last night and lit candles to honour the victims.
They included people who had been targeted before, and they expressed anger that the so-called “fence ninja” had been freed.
“On Sunday we were here and they promised disciplinary action against police officers who are not doing their jobs, but are surprisingly upset when we act,” said one resident.