Witsie witnesses weekend mugging

Witsies leaving campus on foot at night should beware of a group of men posing as students but are actually thieves who want to rob them of their possessions.

Last Friday 3rd year BA student Joseph Tembe was making his way to a friend’s place from a party at Bozzoli when he witnessed two Witsies  being accosted by a group of more than four men on Bertha street in front of the chapel, not far from the OLS (Old Mutual Life Sciences) turnstiles.

“There were two guys walking ahead of me [who] looked like students. A group of guys who also looked like students approached them … they looked like they knew each other.”

“I looked at their shoes and everything and they looked just like us,” Tembe said

[pullquote]”There was nothing he could do and that the men might attack him next.”[/pullquote]

The Politics and English Literature major said he became suspicious when it started to sound like there was an argument going on between the two groups of men.

Tembe said he then noticed another man, wearing a dark green shirt, looking on from the traffic island across the street, as if “checking the coast”.

“I remember when I was robbed on Mandela Bridge. A guy came past and and asked the guys [who were robbing me] if they had taken the phone,” Tembe said.

Tembe did not stay long enough to see what happened next, thinking there was nothing he could do and that the men might attack him next

It was not the last he would see of the group though.

Tembe was outside the South Point residence opposite KFC on De Korte street, using a friend’s phone to call a cab home, when he recognised the same group of men approaching him.

“I was on the phone and those guys came … I recognised them; one in the green shirt and the other in a red shirt … [But] when they saw the guy I’d borrowed the phone from and his girlfriend they turned away.”

Tembe said the group carried on walking down De Korte street.

Muggings, car break-ins and violent attacks have been a constant threat to Wits students, and the kidnapping of a University of Johannesburg on campus last Thursday, have made safety on an around campus a real issue.

Wits’s Campus Control is in the process of hiring a Crime Prevention and Liaison Manager.

The post will be filled by the end of the month, and the manager will be responsible for implementing a crime awareness programme aimed at upping student awareness of safety issues on campus.

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Muggers in transit

For Phindile Msomi* using the taxi system from Melville to main campus is efficient and routine. Her mind is occupied with what lies ahead or what’s on her phone.

But last week the Wits Student was mugged inside the mode of transport she trusted and used on a daily basis.

MUGGERS ON BOARD: One of the points where student commuters get taxis to Auckland Park and Melville, on De Korte Street in Braamfontein.

 

Msomi, a second year BA Law student, was leaving campus last Wednesday evening and boarded a taxi on De Korte Street, a route used by taxis departing from the Bree rank and moving people to Auckland Park, Melville and Cresta.

“I got inside the taxi with another girl I didn’t know from Wits,” said Msomi.

Msomi said the ride seemed normal until they reached the University of Johannesburg, Bunting Road campus.

“The four men sitting at the back seat told us to take out our purses, cell phones and give them our bank card pins,” she said.

She said that this was done at gunpoint.

The girls were warned not to give incorrect pins because their trip included a stop at an ATM nearby.

They complied but Msomi said the other girl was beaten up because “they did not believe how she could not have a phone but have headphones in her possession”.

The muggers took the girls to the ATM and withdrew cash up to Msomi’s limit.

Msomi said the driver seemed to be with the robbers as he did not need any directions to where the machine was located.

The students were then returned to Braamfontein where they were dropped off near Damelin College on De Korte Street again.

“They told us to just walk off and not run or look back otherwise they would shoot us,” Msomi said.

Thembani Shelenge, a taxi queue marshal working on De Korte Street, said this was not the first incident to happen.

He told Wits Vuvuzela that such cases occurred when unknown taxis from outside the zone and an association other than Faraday Taxi Association worked in that area.

“Taxis allowed to rank here are ones with a green and white sticker written Faraday Taxi Association,” Shelenge said.

He explained that people do not pay attention to this because they just assume that if it is on that street it is ranking legally.

Shelenge said the association’s patrol car found a trend in the kind of taxi model used in cases reported.

“Most of the time the taxi is not a Quantum but a Hi Ace,” he said.

Msomi said she reported the case to the police at Park Station but was referred to Johannesburg Central. But she became dispirited and did not go there.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 25th edition, 21 September 2012

(*names have been changed)