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Terrified of our city’s CBD

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Kimberley's Central Business District (CBD) has become a dangerous place with shoppers, salespersons and business owners terrified that they may fall prey to criminals. Every week social media is flooded with messaes and warnings from people who have

Shoppers and business owners fear for their safety. Kimberley's Central Business District (CBD) has become a dangerous place with shoppers, salespersons and business owners terrified that they may fall prey to criminals. Every week social media is flooded with messaes and warnings from people who have beccome victims of a massive increase in crime in the area. This weekend several armed robberies added to this fear.

KIMBERLEY’S Central Business District (CBD) has become a dangerous place with shoppers, salespersons and business owners terrified that they may soon fall prey to criminals.

Every week social media is flooded with messages and warnings from people who have become victims of a massive increase in crime in the area.

Recently a spate of armed robberies and other contact crimes have left visitors and shoppers in the CBD questioning their own safety.

Just this weekend a security guard was shot twice during an attempted armed robbery at Ackermans in Chapel Street, after he confronted a man he suspected of shoplifting.

The suspect pulled out a pistol and shot the guard in the stomach and in the arm before fleeing the scene in a black VW Polo.

Earlier in the weekend two foreign nationals were shot at Bismillah Take-Aways in Phakamile Mabija Road. This incident also raised questions from foreign nationals whether the police, who took nearly half an hour to respond, were maybe in cahoots with criminal elements.

Foreign nationals in Kimberley, many of whom own stores and shops in the CBD, believe they are specifically being targeted by criminals.

On Sunday evening a Pakistani national was shot in the abdomen after an armed suspect entered his shop in Hartswater, leaving him in a critical condition.

“The exact details regarding the shooting (on Sunday) and the events leading up to it will form part of the police investigation,” Netcare 911 spokesperson, Chris Botha, said.

“Paramedics arrived on the scene and found a 30-year-old man who was shot in the abdomen. A doctor in the area started to stabilise the patient before paramedics arrived at the scene.”

“The victim was transported to a hospital in Kimberley under the constant care of an advanced life support paramedic.”

This weekend’s incidents are but the latest in a spate of similar attacks which has seen nearly a dozen tuck shops targeted over the course of a fortnight.

No less than six tuck shops, located in the Kimberley CBD, were robbed at gunpoint of cash, airtime, cigarettes and other goods on Friday, May 12 alone while a total of eight shops were targeted over a seven-day period.

Belong

The tuck shops belong mostly to Bangladeshi, Somali and Pakistani nationals.

While police in the Northern Cape failed to respond to questions regarding what action is being taken to ensure the safety of members of the public, shoppers and business owners were outspoken about concerns for their safety.

“We keep hearing about smash and grabs, muggings and armed robberies in the CBD and nothing about arrests,” Denzil Spies, a shopper visiting Kimberley’s CBD from Douglas, said yesterday. “I have had my cellphone taken twice and was lucky to get away a third time.

“It all happened so quickly and I did not get a look at the guy. That is why I have not opened a case. I cannot expect the police to track down my stuff, but if they made their presence felt then these thugs would give robbing people a second thought.

“If it were not for the malls, I would not know where to shop,” Kimberley resident, Genevieve Koeberg, said. “I’m terrified of coming to town. I avoid the CBD at all costs and it just seems to be getting worse and worse.”

A group of Sol Plaatje University students, who asked to remain anonymous, said that there were no shortage of horror stories about people falling victim to crime, circulating on campus.

“We have all heard about the student who was raped coming from a club one night but we are even cautious while walking around during the day.

“The nyaope boys are everywhere and any person walking alone is easy prey.”

Business owners and operators are equally worried about their safety.

The manager of a clothing store in Phakamile Mabija Road added that violent crimes were not the only cause for concern. “You have to have eyes in the back of your head or you will get robbed blind,” she said. “Even if you see them taking something, you have to be so careful. They will just shoot you and walk away with a smile on their faces.

“Just look what happened to the security at Ackermans on Sunday.

“They know they won’t get caught and even if they do, they will be out on the street in no time. That’s why they don’t give a damn.

“Our economy makes it hard enough to make ends meet. We do not want criminals to make it impossible.”