Robbery down in KZN, but Berea remains a crime hotspot

Residents living in and around Berea, Durban are raising concerns over criminal activities plaguing the area, where people are being targeted and robbed in broad daylight. The Daily Vox investigates.

Students, pedestrians and commuters say that they have been targets of robberies taking place between the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT) Steve Biko campus and Berea. One student, Nomfundo Ngcobo, 21, said that the area has become a haven for crime and students no longer feel safe.

“A few weeks back I was almost a victim and recently a friend of mine was robbed right outside our residence. We are not safe because criminals live a few blocks away from us and are aware that we are students and carry our laptops at times,” she said.

Another student, Thabile Nkwanyana, 21, said the whole area has become terrifying.

“I no longer carry my phone because they get snatched even in taxis, they snatch it through a window. This area has become very frightening,” she said.

Earlier this year, students picketed at Steve Biko Campus and handed over a memorandum to the vice chancellor and the police, demanding increased security on campus and in the vicinity. This came after reports of alleged abductions of female students at the institution emerged on social media.

Alan Khan, the director of corporate affairs at DUT said that crimes committed outside campus do not start or end there since it is situated alongside Durban’s busiest taxi and bus ranks.

“Criminal elements that frequent the area prey on pedestrians, commuters and others. Whilst it is the responsibility of the SAPS to monitor and control crime in the area outside of campus, a security company contracted to DUT conducts regular patrols,” he said.

Nomvuyo Silango, 47, is a domestic worker who works in Glenwood. She passes Berea on her way to and from work. She said criminals roaming around the streets have made her life miserable.

“They are busy terrorising the streets and we are living in fear; I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve been robbed on my way to and from work,” she said.

Silango added that the area has become a hub for drugs and anyone walking along Botanic Road was likely to become a victim.

Colonel Thembeka Mbhele, KZN provincial spokesperson said it’s hard for police to intervene if people do not report crime at their nearest police stations.

“Police will never be aware if people don’t report crime so we urge them to report any sort of crime even if it’s attempted robbery, so that we could know which areas are mostly affected and then police could be deployed to patrol,” she said.

She added that police are currently working together with DUT’s security services in a forum where strides are being made to fight against crime on campus surroundings.

Although crime hotspots do exist, the trend in Kwazulu-Natal shows that there has been a decline in common robberies nationally. According to the recently released crime statistics, a rate of 96 robberies per 100 000 people was recorded between 2016 and 2017, down from 98.8 recorded in 2015/16. In KwaZulu-Natal, an overall decline of of 2.9% in common robbery was recorded between 2016 and 2017.