While Makhanda’s streets been decidedly quieter as far as vehicle and pedestrian traffic is concerned during lockdown levels five and four, petty crime has soared.
Lockdown was imposed on the entire population of South Africa as a measure to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. Hi-Tec Security co-owner and manager Andre Wille said the six weeks of lockdown so far have been very busy for his company’s armed response units and guarding division.
In addition, said Wille, Hi-Tec Security guards have also been on front-of-house duty at several local stores and businesses, sanitising customers’ and clients’ hands, monitoring the number of customers entering stores, and ensuring that everybody entering the premises is wearing a face mask.
Under lockdown levels 5 and 4, members of the general public may walk or drive around town only to buy food, household items and medical supplies, and seek medical attention. The purchase of liquor and cigarettes has been off limits.
Criminals have been active despite the imposition of a curfew, however, breaking into homes and business premises and selling the stolen items in order to buy food and liquor.
Wille said housebreaking cases in Makhanda had been prevalent during the month of April, with his armed response teams attending to cases in the city and surrounding areas.
Wille said there had been four reported in Makhanda East, two in the surrounding farming areas, seven in the central business district (CBD), two in the industrial area, two in the Oatlands area, and one each in Somerset Heights, Hill 60 and the Kingswood area.
Theft out of motor vehicle
Cases had been reported in the CBD and Somerset Heights (one each), while general theft cases were dealt with Hi-Tec in the Kingswood area (two), and Makhanda East, the CBD, Oatlands area and Sunnyside (one each).
Other cases dealt with by Hi-Tec Security personnel included recovery of suspected stolen property, trespassing, and attendance at panic alarm activations.
Hi-Tec Security armed response personnel made six arrests during the month of April.
Wille said that since the imposition of lockdown towards the end of March, there had been a gradual but definite increase in crime in Makhanda, particularly petty crime, trespassing and minor theft.