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Police know ‘but do nothing’: Mpumalanga shopkeepers live in fear of being robbed

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Commuters and street vendors claim they have been robbed by men who often sit behind their stalls near Phola Mall and the Vezubuhle crossing at Mpumalanga.

PHOTO: Warren Mabona/News24

  • Bus passengers and street vendors claim they were robbed by drug addicts who targeted them at the Wezbuhle to Mpumalanga crossing.
  • They want the police to remove the men from the area.
  • Mpumalanga police say they have arrested several drug users in the past for various offenses at the crossing.

Bus passengers and street vendors in KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga, live in fear as gangs of men rob and steal from them, allegedly without police intervention.

Residents appealed to the authorities to take action against the criminals terrorizing the area.

Vendors sell their wares from stalls near Phola Mall and the Vezubuhle junction along the R573, a busy corridor between Pretoria and KwaMlanga.

Street vendor Cynthia Masambuka told News24 that two men at a bus stop last month stole her handbag, mobile phone, weekly bus voucher and R200.

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She said the men pounced while she was waiting for a bus at around 04:00 to go to work in Pretoria.

“They told me not to shout and one of them grabbed my bag,” Masambuka added.

“They then ran towards Fola Park and disappeared. I had just arrived at the bus stop and was the only person there when they robbed me.

Masambuka continued:

I didn’t open a case because other passengers and vendors told me that the police know that these drug addicts often rob people at this crossing, but they don’t do anything.

When News24 arrived at the crossing this week, a group of men gathered behind one of the vendor stalls. Two of them were injecting themselves with syringes. The other two smoked bits of what smelled like a mixture of dagga and nyaope.

Street vendor Moses Kabini told News24 that in January this year, one of the men grabbed a mobile phone from the table and ran away.

He said two mobile phones belonging to other vendors were mysteriously stolen from their stalls in July.

“I always have to keep my phone in my hands,” Cabini added.

“I don’t even smoke cigarettes, but I constantly have to inhale the smell of dagga and other various drugs. We asked the police to remove these people here, but they ignored us.”

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Mpumalanga police spokesperson, Colonel Donald Mdhluli, told News24 that police have arrested several people in the past for drug possession and other offenses at the crossing.

He said the police also discovered that some vendors were asking youths believed to be terrorizing the area to do odd jobs for them without paying them.

“Some sellers send them (drug users) to shops to buy them stocks and don’t pay them,” Mdhluli added.

“They (drug users) then stole from the sellers. But the police arrested them for that.”

Mdhluli urged victims of any crime to file criminal cases at their local police stations.

He also appealed to residents and community organizations to help police and social workers find families of drug users who frequented the crossing so they could offer them help.


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