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Page 2 THE INDEPENDENT on Saturday 13 April 2013

Diners return after gang robbery Restaurants beef up security to keep customers safe NONDUMISO MBUYAZI URBAN restaurant owners are beefing up their security after patrons at an upmarket restaurant were robbed at gunpoint last week. But customers are also showing their mettle by continuing to eat out. In an effort to make their customers feel safer, restaurants are installing CCTV cameras, putting up electric gates, and hiring additional security guards Restaurant owners and managers said this week while there had been an increase in police visibility, dangerous and heavily armed criminals were still on the prowl. While patrons had been alarmed by last weekend’s robbery at Mount Edgecombe’s Marco Paulo restaurant, manager Adam Melville said there had been no huge decrease in customers. “We’ve received a lot of support from our customers,” he said. “People were obviously shaken up but things are getting back to normal.” There was mayhem at the restaurant last Saturday night when a quiet evening of dining turned into a night of terror after a AK-47-wielding gang stormed the eatery and robbed patrons and staff of their wallets, cellphones and jewellery. No shots were fired during


the three-minute robbery, but restaurant co-owner Paul Sheppard was pistol-whipped. Sheppard, who took a few days off to recover at home after the incident, was back at work yesterday. Co-owner Brenton “Billy” Franks yesterday said he had been on the phone with his customers, reassuring them that it was safe to come back and that the restaurant would increase security. The restaurant has already started doing so. An additional security guard was stationed outside the restaurant yesterday while electricians were putting up additional exterior lights. “This place was fenced and had a CCTV camera before the incident but these guys still attacked us. Now we’ve put up all the security measures we can think of to try to make our loyal customers feel much safer,” said Franks. Enforce Security director Anthony Feuilherade, who was eating in the restaurant at the time, said he had gone back to dine there this week. His security company was making progress on the investigation and following up on a “few good” leads. Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said a task team had been established to investigate the robbery. He said arrests were imminent, adding that the police had a clear description of

PLAYING SAFE: Electricians were hard at work at the Marco Paulo restaurant in Mount Edgecombe yesterday installing outside lights. The extra security measure comes after a 10-man gang held up patrons and staff last weekend, making off with cash, cellphones and jewellery. PICTURE: JACQUES NAUDE the men they were looking for. Feuilherade said the 10-man gang – aged between 20 and 40 years – were all wearing golf caps. None wore balaclavas. He said two of the suspects were sought by Enforce Security investigators in connection with other robberies, including another restaurant robbery at Mama Luciana’s in Glenashley late last year. Mama Luciana’s manager, Sherry Nordin, said the restau-

rant was cashing up when they were held up by a group of six men who were all wearing golf caps and brandishing firearms. “They held up myself and my staff but fortunately one of my waiters was outside and was able to alert our security company. The robbers only made off with a few hundred rand,” she said. The restaurant had hired an additional security guard and had asked for more police visi-

bility. “There are more police patrolling the area but we also felt the need to increase our security,” she said. Another restaurant in the area, Splashes, had been held up by a gang. Blue Security managing director Darryn le Grange advised restaurant owners to create a “blue zone” in their area of business. “This means that all businesses pool their resources to

benefit from a dedicated armed response vehicle,” he said, adding that restaurants in Florida Road had benefited from creating this system. “Since we implemented that six years ago restaurant owners in the Florida Road strip have noticed a significant drop in the number of petty crime incidents and patrons can dine out at night with their minds at ease due to the increased visible policing in the area,”

he said. Le Grange advised other restaurants to consider exploring similar solutions to work together with security companies and the police to fight crime. He added that installing on site and street CCTV surveillance cameras that could be linked to a security company’s control room provided an additional crime deterrent and a tool for the police to investigate cases. Expressing his concern about the incidents, Business Against Crime provincial manager Jody Nair said an armed robbery would undoubtedly affect the turnover of any business. He said no amount of security measures could prevent brazen criminals from attacking a targeted business. “This particular restaurant had all the safety measures in place including CCTV camera but they were still hit,” he said referring to Marco Paulo. Nair said restaurants, especially those situated in remote areas, were soft targets for criminals. “They know there will be patrons who will have valuables on them and they know that because the restaurant is in a remote area the response time will be a little longer,” he said. Gerhard Patzer, the chairman of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa’s east coast region, said he did not expect a drop in the restaurant’s popularity following the incident. He said patrons generally forget about such incidents quite quickly. “However it is important that the owners increase visible security,” he said.

Neighbourhood Watch is the modern-day version of old radio drama IN THE Ashley section of the Highway area Justin Bosse is in charge of the local watch. He wants to bring the area he grew up in back to what it was when he was a boy. “There are no kids playing in the streets these days with their bikes. They all go inside,” says the former policeman, who 10 months ago became a father for the second time before going on patrol as usual after 10pm. He left the maternity ward at Parklands Hospital when visiting hours ended, having seen his son for the first time. “I would like to bring it back to being a good area for my two kids.” A message comes over the radio: “Condor with tinted win-

dows. Doesn’t look kosher.” The Volkswagen Polo races through the dark streets with Bosse at the wheel. Then word comes through that the vehicle is no longer suspicious. His colleagues report that they saw an old man carrying two heavy bags through the streets and escorted him to his destination, “or else he would have possibly been a victim of crime”. Bosse’s companion Michael Ribeiro, who is a mechanic in the daytime, built up the car’s engine. He also helps motorists who break down. “If they stay stuck on the road too long, they too will become victims,” he says. Pinetown taxi rank is the next port of call. At the back of

Providing a back-up to the stretched police service, neighbourhood watches relive the drama of Squad Cars, the radio crime series South Africans of the pre-television generation

grew up on. Independent on Saturday reporters DUNCAN GUY and ARTHI SANPATH join the men and women “who prowl the empty streets at night, in fast cars…”

it is a strange collection of cars. Some new, some old, some stripped. One has been charred since their last visit. People sleep in these shacks on wheels as well as in taxis. Non-functioning street lights catch Bosse’s eye. “They’ve been put out for a reason,” he says. He also doesn’t like overgrown vegetation. “We’re going to clean it up and start a place where people can throw their rubbish to be

recycled. We’ll also make some money out of it.” While local companies and residents have helped the Ashley Neighbourhood Watch, they are also on the lookout to generate funds themselves. One house in the quiet streets is in complete darkness. It’s where elderly Hendrik Potgieter was stabbed to death this week. Police have since arrested four people. Meanwhile, further into the Highway area, in Forest Hills,

Zanu-PF bars UN election team PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF has stopped a UN assessment team from entering the country to investigate funding the crucial presidential and parliamentary elections to be held soon. The team, put together by the UN Development Programme, cooled its heels in South Africa this week, unable to get clearance from Harare to travel there to assess whether it could or should fund the polls. The UN virtually runs elections which it funds. Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who belongs to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), told the cabinet

repeatedly last year that ZimIt said it would send a UN babwe could not afford to fund Electoral Needs Assessment its elections. Mission led by a member of the He and Zanu-PF UN Electoral AssisJustice Minister tance Division, TadPatrick Chinamasa joudine Ali Diabacte, were then instructed to do the evaluation. by the cabinet to ask Zimbabwe’s next the UN for funding, polls will be simultawhich they then apneous presidential, plied for. The UN said parliamentary, senit would see whether ate and local governit could raise money ment elections from donors for elec- ROBERT MUGABE which must be held tions, but would first before the end of have to assess the sitSeptember. uation in Zimbabwe, including With just 10 weeks to go beinvestigating the quality of fore Zimbabwe’s inclusive govelectoral infrastructure such ernment expires, Zanu-PF as the voters’ roll and judging spokesman Rugare Gumbo conthe political climate. firmed yesterday that the as-

sessment team had not been cleared to begin work in Zimbabwe. “My understanding is that the UN assessment team is making all sorts of demands, and as far as we are concerned we cannot meet their demands. I don’t know what their demands were,” Gumbo said. Douglas Mwonzora, an MDC spokesman, said ZanuPF was in such disarray that it was blocking entrance to the UN team to “buy time”. “Zanu-PF does not seem to want elections in spite of all its bravado about elections,” he said. “It wants to win by disagreeable means.” – Independent Foreign Service

the Waterfall Three Neighbourhood Watch is busy beside the 4x4 that robbers took after shooting and stabbing Jacques Oosthuizen. Radios in hand, Karen Buxton and Graeme Webb sound the alarm that a white Golf, fitting the description of a suspicious vehicle near the scene, had skidded off towards Kloof. Police give chase and escort the vehicle back, driven by its terrified, apologetic young teenage driver. “Drive like that and you immediately make yourself a suspect,” Webb warns him. It’s a different world to Ashley where humble homes are close to one another. Properties in Waterfall, Forest Hills and Hillcrest are usually around

half an acre, says Webb, who is chairman of the watch. “We try to keep riff-raff out of here,” explains Buxton, who spent 12 years in the police. The watch has on its database a list of people considered to be honest and decent, associated with domestics already employed in the area whom they encourage residents to employ, should they need more labour. People such as bin diggers are not welcome. Very often, their agenda is to watch properties and take photographs with their cellphones to pass on to criminals, says Buxton. Armed with radios and cellphones, the watch can quickly rattle off suspicious car num-

ber plates to operators. “You can never be too certain; we need everyone to be aware and note down details,” says Buxton. She is delighted that many people are standing up to crime. Passing by one house, she says: “This man has up to 10 cameras. You can see it at the gate; we know who is coming up and down here.” Members pay for their own petrol when they go on patrols, and sign up on rosters for duty. “The more people we have on the roads patrolling, the more we are armed with information before anything can happen.” If it wasn’t all so damn real, it could be as much fun as the old radio serial.

Guards, pensioner shot dead as robbers swoop on pay point SIHLE MTHEMBU RESIDENTS of Lindelani in Ntuzuma are in shock after eight gunmen killed three people in an attempted robbery in the township outside Durban. According to police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane the incident took place as pensioners were lined up for their payouts at the Ntuzuma A Hall at around 8am yesterday. “They tried to rob the Fidelity guards who had brought the money. Gunfire was exchanged between the security guards and the suspects; two guards were shot and killed while a third one was hit by a car driven by the suspects while he was trying to shoot at them. An elderly woman who had come to receive her pension money was also shot and killed,” said Zwane.

No money was taken from the scene and one 37-year-old suspect was later apprehended by members of the local policing forum and is in custody for questioning. Three shotguns and three LM4 automatic assault rifles and a stolen Toyota Corolla were recovered. According to Mbuyiselwa Sibiya, ward councillor in Ntuzuma, the community was in shock. This was the first time this had happened. “This is very worrying because we have never had people attempting to rob our pensioners… these people are disgusting and we hope they will be caught quickly,” said Sibiya. The ANC in the province also condemned the attack with provincial spokesman Senzo Mkhize calling for increased security at pension payout points. “The ANC strongly con-

demns this ferocious incident and commends the police for their swift response that led to the arrest of one suspect. We urge Sassa to strengthen the security measures at all pay points in the province to prevent similar incidents from happening,” said Mkhize in a statement. KZN Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni called on members of the community with any information to come forward. “We are confident that the rest of the suspects will also be arrested soon and face the full might of the law for the violent crimes they have committed. We urge the public to inform the police of the suspects’ whereabouts by contacting their nearest police station or Crime Stop,” said Ngobeni.

‘Police are law enforcers, not the law’ STAFF REPORTER AND SAPA POLICE must not see themselves as the law, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa warned officers – ironically at the same time that video footage of an off-duty officer hitting and kicking an unarmed woman went viral yesterday. Mthethwa, speaking at the Free State provincial crime prevention summit in Bloemfontein, said police must see themselves as the enforcers of

the law and not the law itself. “Over the last year, we have identified some areas related to our disciplinary codes and practices that need to be improved, and are currently being addressed,” he said. “To this end, we also began engagements with policing unions as we seek their partnerships and support in our endeavours of professionalising the police.” However, while his comments were being made, secu-

rity footage broadcast by the eNCA television channel, showed an off-duty officer striking a woman to the ground on a petrol station forecourt before launching a sustained assault. Mthethwa said a review of the SA Police Service Act would go to Parliament in the next few months. This had to address professionalism in the police and making accountability of structures more pronounced.

snapshots Zuma’s SA wishes PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma’s birthday wish is to see a better South Africa, his office said yesterday. “I want to see every child in school getting a good education. I want to see all South Africans having electricity, water, sanitation, good health and generally a better life,” Zuma was quoted as saying. The Presidency wished him well on his 71st birthday. Zuma was set to spend the day in Botswana, where he was attending the Southern African Customs Union summit. “He is with, among others, the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan, who also celebrates his birthday today, April 12,” the Presidency said. Zuma was grateful to have lived to see this age. “Each year is a blessing, and I cherish it,” he said. “I am fortunate to have lived until the age of 71. I am fortunate and privileged to have seen the dawn of freedom, and to see South Africa changing for the better.” Zuma said he was happy and honoured to have been able to contribute to building a better South Africa. – Sapa

De Klerk slams JZ FORMER president FW de Klerk yesterday accused President Jacob Zuma of using apartheid to cover his own government’s failure to tackle joblessness and poor education. “Attempts to blame these failures on ‘apartheid’ will simply divert government and public attention from the urgent need to implement the kind of realistic solutions needed to address spiralling social and economic woes,” he said. Wading into a fierce debate about the legacy in the country of enforced racial segregation under white minority rule, De Klerk also warned that such statements only rekindled unnecessary racial acrimony. Zuma on Wednesday rejected Planning Minister Trevor Manuel’s suggestion that the government could no longer use apartheid as an excuse for poor public service. The 77-year old Nobel Peace prize-winner said: “The fact that, 19 years later, we are an even more unequal society is the consequence of the failure of government policy.” – Sapa-AFP

Councillors owe big KWAZULU-NATAL councillors owe the municipalities they represent more than R1.7 million in unpaid rates and services, the DA has said. DA spokesman George Mari said this had been revealed in a reply in the legislature to questions put by the DA. “According to the April 2013 reply from the provincial cooperative governance and traditional affairs department, Newcastle councillors are the worst of the lot, with a massive R522 000 outstanding. Ethekwini and Msunduzi follow, with R156 000 and R132 000 owed, respectively.” None of the amounts were owed by DA councillors. – Sapa

Two-nation visit PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma is set to visit Algeria and Nigeria for talks at the weekend, the department of international relations said yesterday. He was expected to start the two-nation visit tomorrow. Zuma would first meet Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for bilateral consultations on “relations that exist between them”. He would then head for Abuja in Nigeria on April 16, for a meeting with his counterpart Goodluck Jonathan. Several agreements are expected to be signed during the working visit. – Sapa

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