Petty crime, thefts plague Wynberg

Vagrants sleep and shoot up heroin in the bushes near an old cannon at the entrance to the Wynberg 2 Military Base, say residents.

Several parts of Wynberg are seeing an increase in petty crime and thefts, according to David McCormick, from the community police forum.

“Lovers’ Walk, De Villers Road, and Alexandra Road have become a hotbed for small petty crimes and car break-ins,” says Mr McCormick, the chairman of the Wynberg CPF’s Sector 5 sub-forum. “This includes the areas from Alexandra Road down to Aliwal Road and even those little streets like Cavan Road.”

Residents say growing vagrancy in the area is to blame for a series of burglaries and muggings. There are squatters on Waterloo Green and in three houses owned by the state next to it (“Derelict house a headache,” Bulletin, January 24, 2019), and residents say vagrants sleep and do heroin in the bushes near the old cannon at the entrance to Wynberg 2 Military Base and on other pockets of land nearby.

St John’s Road resident Danie Nel, whose wife works at Wynberg Girl’s High School, said they know of children from the high school who had been mugged. “We are also concerned about the girls at Springfield because you do see a lot of dodgy characters walking in St John’s Road.”

Jenny Rabinowitz said she had reported three more burglary incidents at her St John’s Road cottage to police – and they had come after a home invasion in March 2020 when an intruder had threatened her with a gun and a knife.

“Every time I see a shadow going past my window, I am shaking and trembling.”

The most recent incident was two weeks ago. While at the cinema with a friend, Ms Rabinowitz’s granny-flat tenant was alerted that the alarm had gone off at 4pm.

“The guy had been seen hiding, sleeping, doing whatever in those bushes at the cannon. He had broken into cars in St John’s Church yard. We found an axe after he brazenly broke into my house under the cameras. My alarms went off. He knew how much time he had to do whatever he wanted to do before the security could get here,” she said.

The perpetrator had taken silverware that had belonged to her grandmother as well as personal effects of both great sentimental and monetary value, she said.

Robin Clay, whose house is opposite Waterloo Green, said she and her husband had to be “super vigilant” about putting on their alarm, as did their neighbours, because “if you are not watching your property things go missing”.

She added: “We often see guys shooting up around that cannon and along Waterloo Road. So there is a lot of heroin abuse. People that are living around here are very often drug addicts. Since Covid that has escalated.”

Wynberg police spokesman Captain Silvino Davids said Wynberg’s Sector 5 was “predominately quiet”, but there “has been an increase of petty crimes, thefts of things on properties and a housebreaking or two”.

He added: “The military has been cleaning up the bushes and the areas surrounding their base so there has been some activity. And we have stepped up some patrols especially on the night shifts, bordering the military and the surrounding areas.”

He said he could not say for certain that the vagrants were to blame for the uptick in crime.

Mr McCormick agreed, saying, “People are coming from Main Road as well. It isn’t necessarily the local homeless people who are doing it.”

He said a camera on each street corner could help to deter crime.

Despite fencing along the perimeter of the Wynberg 2 Military base, military police tell the Bulletin that new holes in the fence are continuously made.