Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Residents of Newcastle in northern KwaZulu-Natal have vowed to take the law into their own hands if criminals, allegedly from the big cities, continue to invade their town to rob locals.

The town is experiencing an increase in housebreaking, robberies and mugging.

The thieves travel in luxury vehicles in the company of beautiful women.

The women pretend to be lost and while they ask innocent people for directions, the men from behind the vehicle and rob the victims. They then drive off at a high speed.

The community says most of the robbers are from Gauteng and Durban and that their town has become a haven for such criminals.

Thelma Majozi, who was recently mugged, says people are no longer free to move about.

"I thought police visibility would normalise the situation in our town, Majozi says. "But it looks as if the criminals are cleverer that the cops. They know places where they can operate freely."

Majozi says the police have arrested some of the gang members operating in the town, but the criminals regroup in such a way that they are able to avoid the police.

Police spokesman Shooz Magudulela confirms that most of the crimes in the town are committed by people from outside.

He says at least two people have arrested for housebreaking. The police are already maintaining high visibility in the town.

Magudulela says four people were recently arrested after a robbery in Amatikulu Avenue, where a group of friends were robbed by people driving in a luxury car.

The suspects have appeared in court and were remanded in custody until May 9.

"The friends were in the street when a vehicle suddenly stopped next two them and four suspects got out and robbed the group of cellphones valued at R4 500," Magudulela says.

He says this type of robbery is a new thing and the police are investigating whether the suspects are linked to other robberies in the area.