Veld used as hide-out by criminals

Yvonne Ralefeta, showing the open veld opposite her house. Photo Gopolang Chawane

Criminals using an open veld in Silverton in Moreleta Street to scout houses for burglary targets have residents living in constant fear.

People were now threatening to take the law into their own hands, said resident Yvonne Ralefeta who has been a victim of crime.

“Most of the houses in this street have been burgled, because they are just opposite the open veld used by criminals,” Ralefeta said.

She said in the most recent crime, a gate was stolen from her neighbour’s house early on Monday morning.

“My neighbour’s caretaker woke to what looked like an opened gate,” said Ralefeta

Ralefeta said grass in the veld was last cut in November by an unknown company.

“We sometimes hear disturbing noises of people screaming in the veld from our homes. ”

Train commuters getting off at Silverton often used the veld as a shortcut and then fell victim to thieves waiting in the bushes.

Ralefeta said a local CPF group once raided the veld to chase away vagrants living there.

She said one of her neighbours moved away after a burglary that saw an urn filled with a relative’s ashes being stolen.

“The thieves must have thought the urn was filled with something valuable. It was later found in the open veld, empty.”

Ralefeta said another neighbour, Nicoline Kruger, was also a victim of theft recently when a steel pipe was stolen outside her house.

Kruger said she was struggling with heart problems and she and her husband were living in constant fear.

“I think we must use our weed-eaters to get rid of the grass so that we could at least see the perpetrators from a distance.”

Ralefeta said residents had complained to the Silverton police, who responded by claiming to be patrolling the area.

Disputing this, she said she had never seen a police patrol vehicle.

Silverton police spokesperson Captain Jan Sepato said police did patrol the Moreleta area.

“Police are constantly patrolling the area. Just last Monday we arrested a man after he and his two accomplices shot a business owner on Moreleta Street,” he said.

“We urge every resident to report criminal activity to us at all times.”

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