Home South African Armed robbers hit old-age home twice in four days

Armed robbers hit old-age home twice in four days

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This time a 91-year-old woman was robbed of her belongings at gunpoint.

File image.

DURBAN – An old-age home in Musgrave was hit by armed robbers for the second time in four days, this time robbing a 91-year-old woman of her belongings at gunpoint at the weekend.

Terry Sterling, general manager of Garden Grove retirement complex, said a black Toyota Yaris had pulled up at the driveway gate after 7pm on Sunday and the driver had pretended to be from Uber.

He said the robbers had pulled out guns and held the guard down before driving on to the property. “One stayed with the guard while three drove up to the main reception area, where they grabbed the reception guard and asked where the cash was kept,” said Sterling.

He explained that there was never cash on the premises because the home was a “cashless society” and most transactions were done via EFT.

“They then asked the reception guard for her cellphone and money. She went to show them and pushed the panic button, alerting ADT without them realising,” Sterling said.

He said two of the men had stormed into the administration office and tried to break through the residents’ doors.

The first two residents were safe behind their locked doors which the robbers could not break through, but the 91-year-old resident had her door open, said Sterling.

“The lady was in her flat washing dishes when the robbers entered and grabbed her. They asked for her ring and she tried to bend her finger so that it didn’t come off easily, but they forced it off,” said Sterling.

He said that while one held a gun on the woman, the other had taken her television.

“They ran out the building and jumped into their car, which was waiting in the front. The whole thing took three minutes. The time before was under 3 minutes,” said Sterling.

During the first robbery, last Thursday, staff had been held up by gunmen and robbed of their wallets, purses and three computers.

Sterling said that in his 11 years at the home, this week had been the first time he had encountered armed robbers. “We aren’t sure if the two incidents are related or just bad luck.”

Both the residents and the staff were stressed and anxious, he said.

Paul Antao, the Berea Community Policing Forum chairperson, said home invasions were a concern in Berea. “Generally throughout Berea, where there is an opportunity, they will strike.

“They look for weaknesses in the structure. I think they’ve just found a sweet spot and they’ll keep targeting it until the matter is addressed,” he said.

Musgrave councillor Chris Pappas said that since the beginning of January, there had been a drastic increase in crime in Berea, which covers Morningside, Musgrave and Glenwood.

“The violent nature of the crimes is what is most concerning. Theft of motor vehicles, housebreakings and armed robbery have increased.

“Even those places with security guards and private security have been targeted,” he said, adding that for many years the councillors and Berea SAPS officers had been calling for the station to be upgraded and for more resources.

“This call has gone unanswered,” said Pappas.

He said fear in the community was high, with residents calling and messaging him, asking for a solution.

“The answer lies outside of our jurisdiction as a municipality. We need to decentralise crime intelligence from a national level.

“We must also allow provinces to establish and run the police at a provincial level, instead of from Pretoria. This will give us better crime-fighting capabilities,” Pappas said.

In addition, he said, the number of police members conducting visible policing operations needed to be increased and officers needed equipment and vehicles to do their jobs effectively.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane confirmed that a case of robbery had been opened at Berea police station for investigation.

“Victims were allegedly held up by four unknown, armed males who robbed them of their belongings,” he said.

– THE MERCURY