Joy as elusive ‘ninja’ is nabbed
RESIDENTS of Garsfontein in Pretoria yesterday took to social media to react with delight at the arrest of the so-called “fence ninja”.
Security groups in the community said he was recognised when buying “pap ‘n vleis” at a local supermarket.
He was intercepted by a member of security group Accon Solutions and arrested by a police reservist.
Police spokesperson Captain Ilze Jones said: “The reservist immediately called for back-up.
“Two other reservists assisted in arresting the suspect, who was taken to the Garsfontein police station.”
Jones said the suspect was linked to cases dating back to September 2016.
“He has been linked to crimes of housebreaking, theft and trespassing,” Jones pointed out.
Residents staged a protest outside the Garsfontein police station when the man was apprehended in March, but he was released the next day, apparently because no cases had been opened.
However, a poster with his photograph and the description of “fence ninja” and “tuindwergie” (garden gnome) with his name and four aliases had been circulated.
Residents responded to the call by Garsfontein police station commander Colonel Kerwin Solomons to lay charges.
But for close to three months the “ninja” continued to evade arrest despite numerous postings on the suburb’s security WhatsApp groups that he had been seen or had left evidence of his presence.
The man has been harassing the Garsfontein community policing precinct for more than eight months, entering and leaving properties via back walls, out of sight of security and police patrol cars.
One resident recently described looking out a window when her dog growled and seeing him slip silently “like a snake” into her neighbour’s yard.
Many residents spent thousands of rand upgrading their security with razor wire, electric fencing, beams and alarms, but still he managed to gain entry and evade arrest.
However, police have confirmed that he is now in detention and can be linked to as many as 30 charges.
Residents congratulated those involved in his arrest with many thumbs-up and clapping emojis, as well as expressing the wish that he not be set free again any time soon.
Pretoria News editor Val Boje, who lives in the suburb and was part of a delegation that met Solomons in March, expressed the community’s relief at the news of the arrest.
“This man has caused great anxiety for us all for a long time.
“Our thanks go to those who have now ensured his arrest.
“Tonight we will all sleep better for it,” she said.
He had been nicknamed a “fence ninja” for his ability to scale walls in Garsfontein.
For months, residents in the suburb were increasingly frustrated and frightened as he moved from block to block, stealing but never getting caught.