A R40-million road upgrade project intended to benefit the people of the Eastern Cape has instead resulted in a massive crime wave in the areas near the N2 highway bridge.
The N2 to Ntabankulu – an area falling under the Alfred Nzo District Municipality – was recently upgraded in a road infrastructure development and safety programme. But now the bridge is being used by criminals as a hideout.
The areas most affected include Mpisini and Mathwebu, with the people coming home from work late being most at risk of attack – although crime in the area takes place throughout the day and night.
Local police say criminals hide under the bridge and wait for their victims to come past and then rob them. The crimes most often reported are cellphone snatchings, robbery, rape and even murder.
Speaking on behalf of the community, activist Anovuyo Nokhamandana said “You need to go in groups when you cross that bridge, and you mustn’t stop or get out of a car in that area if you are alone.”
Living in fear
“We are all living in fear. Our families are not safe. We are not saying we don’t want the bridge, because it helps us when there are heavy floods. But our government needs to put street lights because it’s very dark. That’s why criminals take advantage of the situation,” said Mzikayise Gogo, another community member.
The development was part of a master plan for tourism and other long-term projects. But the current criminal activities are overshadowing the good that has been done in the area.
Area councillor Bantu Nozithetyana confirmed the increased numbers of crime reports about the bridge and said he receives more case every day.
“To cross under that bridge is very dangerous, because it’s where the criminals wait for their targets and attack them,” said Nozithetyana.
He suggested that people must come together and form a policing forum to look at guarding the bridge through the night.
In the past two weeks police found a dead body of a man who was beaten and killed and another case was opened when a 17 year-old girl was found drowned in the water near the bridge and some of her body parts had been taken. – Health-e News.