Missing loved ones

Hundreds of men, women and children are reported missing each month.
While some are reunited with their loved ones, others simply vanish without trace for years.

Gert Van Rooyen and his female accomplice, Joey Haarhoff, are believed to be responsible for the abduction and murder of several missing girls, aged between nine and sixteen-years-old. 

In early 1990, when faced with arrest after the escape of their latest kidnap victim, Van Rooyen killed Haarhoff before committing suicide in Pretoria

The bodies of their supposed victims were never found.

As a young reporter, I covered the story and camped out for days outside Van Rooyen’s Malherbe Street house in Capital Park. Police dug up the entire property looking for the remains of the girls- and nothing was found.

The search was taken to many parts of South Africa over the years. Even recently, an area on a KwaZulu- Natal beach was searched. The mystery remains.

I know of many families who are missing loved ones. The trauma is overwhelming. It is any parents nightmare for a child to go missing.

Human trafficking syndicates are active and many lure children. They force them into drug and sex rings. 

Even adults go missing without trace in their thousands annually. 

A young man from Marlboro-Gardens, Nazeer Mohamed, disappeared some years ago from his Johannesburg car dealership. 

Years later, no one knows what happened to him. All his elderly parents pray for is closure.

Dean Jafta (20) from Eersterust in Pretoria disappeared on 19 May.

His family, assisted by the community, have been searching day in and day out with no success.

Dean’s father, Denzil, says: “Our son is missing for the past five weeks today and there is no trace of him. 

“I have submitted all evidence to the police and even given the name of suspects. Nothing has been done. 

“In week three, a colonel informed me that a special unit will assist to conduct a thorough investigation, but nothing has happened up to now.

“Police don’t communicate with us. Dean’s car was found shortly after his disappeared but we don’t know where he is,” Denzil Jafta told me.

He adds: “We appeal to anyone with information to please come forward. We pray every day for his safe return. We hope the Lord will answer our prayers. The community is very supportive but I can’t say that of our police. We are heartbroken.”

*Yusuf Abramjee is an anti-crime activist and Namola’s Chief Ambassador 

Twitter: @abramjee

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Information Key in Fighting Crime

In her speech titled “Moneyballing the criminal justice system,” Anne Milgram Criminal justice reformer talks about the power of information as being key in fighting crime. She says that smart statistics have changed baseball, healthcare, and many other industries and should be used as well as to fight crime

 

As Namola we agree with this sentiment 100%.  South Africa has a Crime Administration System (CAS) which is a system for gathering and collating data on crime across the country. This system is linked to nearly all the 1 130+ police stations across the country.

Each time a person goes to a police station and reports an incident of crime, a docket is opened and the information about the crime is uploaded onto this electronic system. Every 24 hours, all the criminal cases opened across the 1 130+ police stations are updated on CAS.


The information is also geographically tagged so it is possible for the police to track exactly where crimes are taking place and how this pattern changes over time. For example, they also know which different types of crime are most likely to take place, and at what times of the day.

They also know a fair amount about the modus operandi of different crime types and the profiles of the likely perpetrators and victims. It is for this reason that they are able to identify crime ‘hot-spots’ which allows the police to identify crime hotspots and deploy resources accordingly.

 

As Namola we have the “Report Corruption” feature: please pass on detailed information so that we can forward it to the relevant law enforcement agencies to investigate.


Crime tip-offs should be directed to Crime Stop on 08600 10111.Namola provides data analytics that allows for police to identify crime hotspots and deploy resources accordingly.

 

It is important for people to work closely with the police by giving out relevant information that will lead to reducing the crime wave in our society.


Namola is growing fast!

Namola now has 60 000 downloads, making it one of the fastest growing free safety apps in South Africa.
And the other good news is more and more citizens are using the app to report crime. Namola guarantees a call-back time of under 90 seconds.
The entire Gauteng is covered and Stellenbosch launched last week. The various control rooms (including the ones at Gauteng Community Safety and the Tshwane Metro Police Department) run 24/7.
We are still being inundated with requests from across South Africa for Namola to go national. We are engaging municipalities, provincial governments and national government. We hope to add additional areas over the coming months. 
It is encouraging to see how citizens are embracing technology. It is the future! 
We are working with NGO’s to introduce specific themes on the app such as reporting gender based violence. 
Under the #MakeSAsave category, we will continue to update users on latest crime trends, safety tips, etc.
The “Report Corruption” feature: please pass on detailed information so that we can forward it to the relevant law enforcement agencies to investigate.
Crime tip-offs should be directed to Crime Stop on 08600 10111. 
Thank you for supporting Namola. Let’s join hands and #MakeSAsafe 
*Yusuf Abramjee is an anti-crime activist and Namola’s Chief Ambassador 

Twitter: @abramjee

Protecting the protector

Neighborhood Watch Don'ts

With the increase in crime rates in South Africa, safety has become important for many. Citizens are coming up with innovative ways to challenge the increased crime rates in South Africa.  One of the innovative ways (apart from Namola which an app that connects you with police at the click of a button) is the increased numbers in volunteers for the neighborhood watch committees.

A neighbourhood watch or also called a crime watch or neighbourhood crime watch is an organised group of civilians devoted to crime and vandalism prevention within a neighbourhood.

Neighbourhood watch is one of the most effective ways for neighbourhoods to reduce crime in their surrounding areas. It will also assist in protecting property, reducing car break-ins and house burglary. An effective Neighbourhood watch helps in regaining areas from criminals.

 

Working in conjunction with our local police services and armed response organisations, crime watch has formed formidable teams against criminals.

 

The aims of neighbourhood watch include educating residents of a community on security and safety and achieving safe and secure neighbourhoods. However, the misconception with most neighbourhood watch teams has been the response to criminal activity.

 

Being a neighborhood watch committee member does not mean one is given the rights and responsibilities to act like police officers. Neighborhood watch members are supposed to work with the police officers.

 

And these are some of the don'ts that govern crime watch committees that should be followed so that citizens do not put their lives at risk

 

When a criminal activity is suspected, members are encouraged to report to authorities, and not to intervene. Intervening places civilians in danger

 

Crime watch is discouraged from approaching suspicious people within their neighbour. Namola advises that they can contact the police, record number plates if the suspicious individuals are using a car.

If Crime Watch witnesses a crime taking place, they should alert the police immediately. Intervening might place you in harm's way

Don't take the law into your own hands. Vigilantism is a serious offence that might lend one in jail. Taking law into your own hands might have repercussions. And lastly, we urge citizens of South Africa not to take unnecessary risks trying to obtain information on suspicious people or crimes. No one should be killed or injured.


Concern over abductions

Cases of abduction appear to be on the increase.
A number of incidents have been reported where especially business people are kidnapped and ransom is demanded.
In the latest incident, 80-year-old Mamoo Moosa was abducted after leaving Mosque in Mahikeng (formally Mafikeng) in the North West on Tuesday evening.
The abductors demanded R3-million. Police moved swiftly and within 18 hours arrested two suspects and recovered two firearms in a town some 200km away. Moosa was unharmed. Police hope to make more arrests.
A few weeks ago, a doctor was also kidnapped in the North West capital and R1-million was demanded. It is believed the family paid the money and the victim being freed.
There is no doubt that organized syndicates are at work. We are also seeing more and more foreign nationals being abducted locally. The criminals demand that the ransom be paid in foreign countries. 
Until recently, abductions were rife in Mozambique. 
Last year, Anisah Moosa was abducted outside her uncle’s Polokwane home in Limpopo. She was freed after a police sting operation that saw three cops shot and injured. 
Police subsequently made arrests and the men were all released on bail. They have now been linked to other serious crimes also.
Authorities need to come down hard on these syndicates and bring and end to these abductions. Suspects must not be released on bail. Once convicted, these thugs need to in-prisoned for life.
Here are some tips in the case of an abduction:
*Report it immediately to the police and submit a photograph of the victim.
*Do NOT post the abduction on social media or via Whats App groups. That can endanger the life of the victim.
*When ransom demands are made, co-operate. Police need to be informed every step of the way. Law enforcement agencies know how to respond.
And remember, if you have any information on syndicates or their kingpins, call Crime Stop on 08600 10111 anonymously. 
#MakeSAsafe
*DOWNLOAD the #NamolaSafety App and get help fast. We are reaching the 60 000 download mark. The entire Gauteng is now covered and the Stellenbosch Municipality has also started implementing Namola on a trial project. We are getting requests from across South Africa to expand Namola. It’s work in progress. Outside Gauteng and Stellenbosch, Namola will connect you to 10111 in case of an emergency for now. Get help fast!
*Yusuf Abramjee is an anti-crime activist and Namola’s Chief Ambassador.

Twitter: @abramjee

Can the poor afford safety and security?

Is safety out of reach for those below the poverty datum line?

 

Safety in South Africa has become one of the scarcest commodities and it seems that the cost of safety has doubled in price for “anyone interested in being safe.”

 

Both public and private sector are trying find solutions and reasons for the upsurge in crime. However, government seems to be lagging behind in providing solutions.

 

In the Presidency's 2017-2018 budget vote speech President Jacob Zuma agreed that the ongoing brutal attacks and killings of women and children in some parts of the country were curtailing people’s right to safety.

By definition rights are entitlements that one has by virtue of being born,in which the state has a mandate to promote and protect rights of its citizens. However access to these rights in South Africa has come at a cost.

 

From self defense classes, pepperspray sales, chauffeur driven services, alarm systems and security companies, concrete houses the list goes on and on. All of the solutions being provided seem to cost the victims more. Which then makes me ask the questions:

                     

Has safety become elitist?                        

Has safety become a privilege reserved exclusively for the rich?'                       

How much does safety cost?

Is safety a luxury for the rich?

 

Questions might be similar, but all lead to a simple question, can the ordinary citizen earning the stipulated  R3,500 per month, or R20 per hour minimum wage afford to be safe?


picture courtesy of http://www.kevburns.com/blog/bid/383056/How-To-Make-Money-From-Safety

The gendered nature of violence in South Africa

Safety and Women in South Africa

Personal safety has become an important issue for everyone especially women. In the recent weeks South Africa has seen an upsurge of femicide. Women are being targeted, both in their private and public spaces.

 

The modus operandi of the criminals in regards to women seems to have shifted. crime in South Africa has become more brutal and violent against women.

 

Perpetrators are indicted for more than one charge. Kidnapping, rape or murder are no longer charged or committed solely. Multiple indictments are the new order of the day.

 

While political parties have blamed the femicide on the historical nature of the country.

Academics have attributed a lot of reasons to why the country seems to have taken this turn. From linking unemployment, poverty and crime,men’s identity in contemporary South Africa to patriarchy and ownership of women’s bodies by men.

 

The media is filled with graphic stories of citizens being raped, shot, kidnapped, hijacked and murdered. Examples of these stories are


22-year-old Karabo Mokoena who was recently reported missing after she went on a date with her boyfriend. Her charred body was found in a veld.


Qondile Mhlanga, 21, went missing from Kamdladla near Tonga in Mpumalanga in April. Her decomposed body was found covered with tree branches and dumped in a dam a week later.


The body of 28-year-old Bongeka Phungula, a graduate from the Durban University of Technology, was found in a dump site in Tladi with gunshot wounds to her head.


Popi Qwabe, 24, from Zola 2 in Soweto, was also found killed on the same day. Both had also been raped, police said.


Earlier this week, Thembisile Yende, reported missing two weeks ago, was found dead in an office at Eskom where she worked with bruises on her neck.

 

The body of Stellenbosch University student Hannah Cornelius was found after she was hijacked and abducted. She was also raped.

These are just but a few of the cases that have made it to the media. Some are still unreported, while some have gone unresolved. Has South Africa turned on its women? Is South Africa now a “State of terror.”



Picture courtesy of https://www.whatsuplife.in/gurgaon/blog/safety-security-women-helpline-gurgaon-gurugram/


We must win the war on crime

Murder. Robbery. House invasions. Hijackings. Rape…the list goes on and on…and on! 
This is what we have become accustomed to in South Africa.
The past 48 hours has again seen a series of violent crimes across South Africa and many say the situation is out of control.
We must continue to stand-up and fight crime. 
We need civil society to really start taking a stand against crime. And we need more activism. 
Police bosses need to be out and about more. They must be on the ground working with communities. But we see little of this. The police leadership cannot sit in their offices and #MakeSAsafe  
Communities continue to complain about poor service delivery. Investigations are often poor. This is an on-going problem and the SAPS leadership must tackle it urgently.
I say it again; the time has come to appoint a Police Ombudsman. The cops cannot probe themselves. 
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula hit the ground running a few weeks ago and I remain confident he is going to make a difference. I only hope he does not lose steam and focus – especially with all the political shenanigans underway. 
Mbalula needs to keep the cops on their toes and ensure they serve and protect us.
A report said eBlock Watch founder Andre Snyman was threatened to be charged by police because he shared information about a crime in progress on social media. It is apparently illegal.
It is this type of response to civil society that makes the police stink. Instead of winning communities over, they isolate them.
I have repeatedly said one of the major problems in the police is poor communication. They need experienced communicators at all levels. The public’s faith in the police needs to be restored and that can only be done through effective communication and partnerships.
I hope Minister Mbalula is going to make this his priority. 
We can and must win the war on crime. But, it can only be achieved if our police service is effective and efficient. We need stability and we need it now. 
#MakeSAsafe
*Yusuf Abramjee is anti-crime activist and Namola’s Chief Ambassador 

Twitter: @abramjee

AIRPORT FOLLOWINGS

Almost every week we hear of followings from OR Tambo International Airport and armed gangs robbing travellers.
It’s out of control!
It appears a number of syndicates are at work. Police have made some arrests in the past but the gangs are still operating with impunity. 
In the latest incident, passengers were robbed on the N12 after leaving the airport. They arrived from the DRC.
Last week, a man was held-up and robbed of cash in Laudium Pretoria shortly after arriving from London.
Urgent interventions are needed to stop the airport followings. Police have to act…and act with urgency. 
These robberies will eventually affect tourism to South Africa if it is not already. Many locals have lost faith in law enforcement agencies.
It may be argued that it’s difficult to stop these crimes because thousands of passengers arrive every day. 
But, police need to consider sting operations, use intellegence and monitor those on the prowl at the airport. One often sees dozens of suspicious characters loitering. “Spotters” seem to be constantly at work. 
I will not be surprised if some officials are also involved with these syndicates. Yes, most may be random attacks but in some cases it appears to be well planned.
Police at OR Tambo are also far too lethargic. There are allegations that some cops take bribes from foreign passengers who arrive and they harass them in the public areas and parking lots. Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, has been alerted and I am sure action is going to be taken.
STATEMENT

OR Tambo International Airport issued a statement on Monday 19 June saying it is well “aware of and concerned about incidents of crime in the vicinity of the airport and against people followed to their destinations from the airport”. 

“The safety and security of passengers and visitors to OR Tambo International Airport remains of paramount importance to airport management.

“We are therefore particularly concerned by the latest occurrence of follow-home crime in which two people were shot and wounded,” says Leigh Gunkel-Keuler, spokesperson for OR Tambo International Airport.

“It is our understanding that there is a high level of awareness of these matters within the South African Police Services (SAPS), which has the responsibility for preventing and investigating crime in and around the airport. 

As airport management we continue to engage with the SAPS on these matters and attempt to effectively communicate the concerns that we hear from the public. In addition, we provide any assistance we can to the efforts of the SAPS to prevent crime that is connected to the airport in some way,” says Gunkel-Keuler.
#MakeSAsafe 
*Yusuf Abramjee is an anti-crime activist and Namola’s Chief Ambassador

Twitter: @abramjee

Open Letter: #MakeSAsafe

OPEN LETTER: #MakeSAsafe
Monday 19 June 2017
Dear Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Premiers, MEC’s, Mayors, MMC’s and corporate leaders,
CRIME IN SA AND FINDING URGENT SOLUTIONS
You are fully aware that crime is affecting all of us.
Criminals are running amok and the situation does not seem to be improving. In fact, indications are that it’s getting worse.
South Africans are living in fear.
Criminals show no respect for life and property. With an average murder rate of just under 50 people each day, it is safe say: “Crime is killing South Africa.”
While the Constitution of our country guarantees us safety and security, we know we cannot depend solely on government. We need to strengthen public/private partnerships and mobilize
civil society.
We cannot only point fingers. Yes, it is our right to criticize and condemn but we must also find solutions. We must all work together to #MakeSAsafe
I accepted the role of Namola’s Chief Ambassador in December. I know that this safety app is making a difference and has the potential to make an even bigger difference in the months and years ahead.
The City of Tshwane’s TMPD launched Namola over a year ago. It has grown and developed. But, there is lots of opportunity to make it more effective – and we need the TMPD to commit further.
The Gauteng Community Safety Department under the leadership of MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane launched Namola a few weeks ago. The partnership with Gauteng Traffic is already yielding results.
MEC Nkosi-Malobane said “we have to embrace technology and improve response times…That’s what Namola is doing.”
And last week, the Mayor of Stellenbosch Gesie Van Deventer announced a partnership with Namola.
The Mayor said: “Using technology such as this in our fight against crime is an essential step in the right direction to improve the safety and security of our residents and visitors. The recent murder of a student and the rape of young girl within our municipal area have again highlighted the need for innovative thinking from local government to find and implement workable solutions. Namola provides a unique approach to improving safety and security and allows for multiple stakeholders to work together, including the Municipality, the South African Police Service and private security.”
We presented Namola to the South African Police Service (SAPS) a few months ago. It is the ideal solution to the problems being experienced at 10111 Centers. The Police’s Civil Secretariat has an e-policy and we are meeting them soon.
Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, is on record as saying that we must use technology in the fight against crime.
Namola has over 55 000 downloads. Gauteng has three control rooms and Stellenbosch is now live.
We guarantee a call-back within 90 seconds of the panic button being activated. And the nearest police and/or Metro/Traffic police vehicle will respond.
Namola will certainly contribute to #MakeSAsafe
I appeal to National, Provincial and Local Government to follow the lead taken by Tshwane, Gauteng and Stellenbosch and implement the safety app in their areas. Now is the time!
We’ve also had interest from Gauteng Disaster Management who want to use it for fire emergencies.
Happimo is the NPO that runs Namola.
 It’s critical to invest time and money into the fight against crime.
Let’s cut the red-tape and get it going without delay.
We are getting requests from across South Africa.
In the informal settlement of Diepsloot north of Johannesburg we have a partnership with Memeza and when alarms are activated, the nearest police vehicle responds- thanks to Namola.
We hope to cover the entire South Africa by the end of this year- but we can only do with your support.
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and Cape Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille, have already shown interest in Namola.
Companies are often scared to be associated with the fight against crime because they think it’s negative. It’s not! It’s contributing to #MakeSAsafe and you have to invest into technology.
Let’s not allow criminals to ruin our country. Invest time and money and support initiatives such as Namola.
I salute people like businessman, Alan Knott-Craig, Jr, the co-founder of Namola for having the vision. Several foreign countries are already showing interest in Namola.
My concluding appeal to both the public and the private sectors: Cut the bureaucratic delays and get things going. For as long as you delay, criminals will be the only ones benefiting.
With kind regards
Yusuf Abramjee
Chief Brand Ambassador: Namola, anti-crime activist and Social Cohesion Advocate
Twitter: @abramjee