2007-01-06 : Farm attacks go urban

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2007-01-06 : Farm attacks go urban

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2007-10-26 08:15

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1 ... 852C475316

Farm attacks go urban

January 06 2007 at 03:22PM

By Sheree Russouw

Sophisticated urban criminals are exploiting the same tactics used in
farm attacks to hit homes in residential suburbs in South Africa's
major cities.

Henri Boshoff, a military analyst at the Institute for Security
Studies (ISS), told the Saturday Star on Friday that the military
precision in "house attacks" in cities was very similar to farm

After attending scenes of "so-called aggravated house robberies"
around Gauteng in the past three months, he concluded that the modus
operandi criminals used in those incidents was the same as farm

'The government needs to see this crime as a priority'
>From March 2005 to March 2006 South Africa recorded 10 173 incidents
of aggravated house robberies. Gauteng accounted for half, at a
staggering 5 909.

Boshoff is calling for the police to classify "house attacks" as a
separate crime category, as farm attacks are categorised, because a
variety of crimes including murder, rape and hijacking occurred during
those incidents.

"The government needs to see this crime as a priority and put a task
team on to it. That's the only way to stop these syndicates. We need
more-visible and proactive policing," he said.

"There is no difference between these house attacks and farm attacks.
Houses are being targeted and someone is doing some reconnaissance.
They find out what is in the house in terms of money and jewellery,
and the movements of people.

"They are even using the same kind of markings as they use in farms
such as Coke bottles, stones and sticks [placed outside the property]
to warn others [in the gang] if there are dogs or to be careful
because there are weapons in the house.

'Someone is doing some reconnaissance'
"Then the team hit the house. They use very military types of actions
and all are well armed, very aggressive and violent - that's how they
shock the inhabitants. The most obvious times this is happening is
when residents are home, because they want them to open their safes.

"You could be busy having a braai, and they hold you up and rob you.
If you're lucky they won't shoot you, but in most cases they do hurt

Most attacks, Boshoff said, happened after 8pm. And often, houses in
affluent suburbs, "where they know there is money and jewellery", are

Cellphones were not valuable to the criminals, while victims' cars
were merely used to get away from the scene and were dumped later.

Hangwani Mulaudzi, a spokesperson for the ministry of safety and
security, said he didn't want to comment on Boshoff's findings but
said it was unlikely the police would make "house attacks" a separate

"It's house robbery. You can't call it an attack. People enter the
house, and when you go to court you can dissect the crimes
individually. It's already categorised as housebreaking or robbery."

Dr Johan Burger of the ISS said it was alarming that farm attacks were
"seeping into cities".

"It seems as if criminals are becoming bolder by the day, and they can
only do that if they have enough confidence that they won't get
caught," he said.

South Africans were tired of being powerless victims of crime and had
little faith in the police and the justice system.

"If the government is as serious as it says it is, then it must now
take the lead and give this fight the sort of urgency one would expect
if we were confronted with a military threat - but we don't see that."

Mulaudzi added it was very sad when people generalised about crime in
South Africa. "The police are working hard to protect this country and
its constitution. Yes, we do have a crime problem but it's not unique
to South Africa. It's global."

o This article was originally published on page 1 of Saturday Star on January 06, 2007
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