VOC listeners are fed up with crime and believe ordinary people should do whatever they can to defend themselves against brazen criminals. This was the overwhelming sentiment on air this week, following a fiery debate around the shooting of a teenage criminal near Bonteheuwel.
On Monday, a woman found herself doing the unthinkable act of shooting and killing an alleged smash-and -grab assailant. The alleged suspect, a 17-year old teenager, who was accompanied by two individuals, approached her with a knife whilst she waited at the traffic lights on the corner of Jakes Gerwel Drive (Vanguard) and Bluegum Road in Bonteheuwel.
Residents of Cape Town found themselves torn between supporting the actions of the smash-and-grab victim and questioning her stark reaction, the mother of the deceased stating that she should instead have fired a warning shot.
Many listeners felt that the age of the deceased, should not be considered a factor in the case.
One listener stated he that “feels for the family, but that they [the criminals] think nothing of other people and their lives. What the lady did was right, he deserved it, no matter how old he is.”
Whilst, another listener urged members of society to not “think of [the criminals] age, since they know what they are doing.”
Numerous listeners also called to attention the criminal record of the deceased, stating that he “had a criminal record of stabbings.”
Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith confirmed the teenager was arrested in September last year after carrying out a smash and grab on a white Mercedes on the same stretch of road. During the arrest, he allegedly attempted to stab an officer but was shot in the left hip.
Of the comments that VOC received, many individuals mentioned that they too; witnessed, were the victim of, or almost became victims of smash-and-grab criminals at the intersection.
This strip of road is notorious for criminal activity. In 2015, at least, 190 smash-and-grab incidents were reported on Jakes Gerwel Drive. In December, the City’s law enforcement initiated a pamphlet drive cautioning people about smash-and-grab-incidents.
One comment read: “I have witnessed smash & grabs at that location on Vanguard Drive. The perpetrators just stroll away with the loot, [and flee] towards Langa. Yet the victim is left traumatised for life. I support her.”
Many listeners, however, lay the blame for the incident on the South African Police Service, who they assert have not developed the necessary mechanisms to monitor and deter criminals from targeting motorists on Jakes Gerwel Drive.
“A life lost is sad, the police should be held accountable since they aware of the smash-and-grab hotspots but [have not provided ample police-visibility],” one SMS read.
Numerous listeners have encouraged parents to monitor their children and address any negative behaviour, which may be cause for concern.
“Parents should be aware of their children’s whereabouts. So when people take the law into their own hands, it means that the police are not doing their work. [There appears to be] never enough manpower for law and order.”
Another message sadly echoed the sentiments of every parent who has experienced the untimely death of a child as a result of their involvement in criminal activity:
“Today it is too late since my child is dead due to me – why did I not stop him? If I did something, maybe my child would still be alive. I am heartbroken, hurt, and in pain.
I cannot stop these tears from rolling. And it is so sad how because I loved my child- moms please ponder.”
Others called for the reinstatement of the death penalty in order to assist with the current upsurge of crime.
Interestingly, numerous listeners voiced their concern about the use of arms in a smash-and-grab incident.
“As Muslims how can we support the shooting and stand by the lady. Murder is murder. Nowhere in the Qur’an does it state that you are allowed to kill,” read one SMS.
Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said the investigation was on-going and cases of murder and robbery had been opened.