http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1 ... 237C111825
This article was originally published on page 1 of Sunday Independent on
December 09, 2007
December 09 2007 at 12:11PM
By Eleanor Momberg
A mother and son were murdered and three other people critically wounded in
a shooting in a home in Fourways, Johannesburg, early on Saturday.
The murder of the 52-year-old woman and her 26-year-old son came in a week
when police expressed concern about the increase in house robbery, business
robbery and truck hijackings in the six months from April to September this
Superintendent Eugene Opperman, the Gauteng police spokesperson, said an
unknown number of assailants, armed with handguns, had gained entry to the
It was unclear whether they smashed a window before breaking the burglar
bars, or whether the window was left open.
"When they entered the house, the people started waking up and the
assailants opened fire," said Opperman.
The woman and her son, whose names are being withheld by police, were
killed, while another man and woman, both in their 30s, and a 19-year-old
man were critically wounded. The three wounded were hospitalised.
"The attackers fled without taking anything," said Opperman.
Releasing the crime statistics for the six-month period this week, the
police said house robbery had increased by 7 percent to 6 711, business
robbery by 29 3 percent to 4 438, and truck hijacking by 53 3 percent to
While most house robberies happened in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, the
highest increase in this type of crime was recorded in the Free State.
Gauteng reported 3 568 house robberies during this time - 7 percent less
than the same time in 2006. The largest decrease in these crimes was in the
Business robberies increased by more than 190 percent in Limpopo and the
Free State. In contrast, Gauteng showed a 2,6 percent increase in armed
robberies at businesses and KwaZulu-Natal a 71 percent increase on the same
six months in 2006.
Murder, rape, indecent assault, attempted murder, assault with intent to do
grievous bodily harm and robbery with aggravating circumstances had,
however, shown a general decrease, said Dr Chris de Kock, the police's chief
According to the report, house robbers operated mainly in small groups,
usually struck at night and tended to hold up their victims with firearms.
In most cases, their first contact with their victims was in their homes
after they had gained forced entry.
They most often stole cellphones, money, DVD players, clothes, jewellery,
television sets and sound systems, followed by vehicles.
While people could expect to be attacked while walking or driving anywhere
in the world, house and business robberies were of particular concern, the
Besides armed robberies, more than 70 percent of hijackings also happened
either in front of, or at, a person's home.
De Kock said that, even if crime dropped by 50 percent, the perception of
high crime levels would remain.
Because most of the aggravated robberies occurred in suburbs in the middle
to higher socio-economic areas with older residents, the chances were
greater that at least once a week a well-known resident would fall victim to
house robbery or carjacking, which would be reported in the media.
The report noted that, when people think about business robberies, they
usually imagine large groups (10 to 14) of heavily armed men "attacking"
shopping centres and malls.
"Such incidents do, indeed, occur, but account for only a small proportion
of business robberies."
By far the largest number of business robberies affected small to medium
factories and conventional shops in central business districts and suburban
areas. Cash, cellphones, food, alcohol and cigarettes were the items most
Opperman said house robberies and shootings happened "very often" despite
the police's frequent warnings for people to lock their windows and doors,
not to let strangers into their homes and to use installed alarm systems.
"They are not using the security gates installed; they are not using the
alarms they paid to have put in; they might lock the security gate on the
front door, but then leave the back door open. People still open their doors
to strangers who come and ask to use the toilet or who say they have to fix
the phone. We have warned people countless times."
Opperman said it was "totally impossible" to have a policeman stationed at
each house, on each street corner or at each shop or mall at all times of
All South Africans, he said, should take their personal safety seriously and
should learn from those communities that were taking action and had shown
that crime levels could be brought down.
He attributed the reduction in house robberies in Gauteng to the police's
Operation Trio, which had been running since the first quarter of the year.
"There have been many arrests," he said.