Bridge attacks with rocks on increase in KZN
Solution impossible overnight – officials
WHETHER it’s a prank or the wicked plan of thieves to rob motorists, the rock throwing menace has snowballed.
In KwaZulu-Natal, authorities have been called on to act decisively.
However, authorities said the problem cannot be resolved “overnight”.
Thus far only one arrest has been made after at least seven incidents were reported in the aftermath to the fatal December 28 attack on the Haffajee siblings.
Amina, 16, and her brother Abdur, 7, died when a boulder hit their vehicle while travelling on the N2, between Tongaat and Ballito, north of Durban.
Kirthan Pillay, 19, was the latest victim of rock throwing when youngsters launched missiles at his vehicle while he drove under the “Boys’ Town” bridge, near Tongaat, on Friday. His windscreen was shattered but he was unhurt.
The victims in the other incidents that followed said they felt fortunate to have escaped with only minor injuries.
On Thursday, a 28-year-old suspect was chased down by a Pietermaritzburg-based security company which was alerted by a local WhatsApp group about an attack from a bridge in Hilton.
Pietermaritzburg SAPS spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim confirmed the arrest and said the suspect was expected to appear in Howick Magistrate’s Court.
DA spokesperson on transport in KZN, Rafeek Shah, questioned the intelligence on the ground.
“It is a frightening trend of heinous crimes. To date, we don’t know who attacked the Haffajee siblings or to which area they belonged, which points to the lack of intelligence on the ground by law enforcement officials.
“Whether this is a copycat trend or criminal syndicate, the suspects are known to communities, who see and hear things,” Shah claimed.
Durban SAPS spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said police were still investigating the Haffajee case and discussing further security plans. But in the interim, police were patrolling bridges considered to be crime hotspots.
Metro police officials were also surveying bridges, which has been “working well”, said Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad, who said further plans would be reassessed.
Forming “task teams” is believed to be a recommendation by government officials to resolve the phenomenon and bring perpetrators to book.
KZN Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Mxolisi Kaunda is set to convene a second meeting with mayors in affected municipalities, and senior management of SA National Roads Agency Ltd to devise a long-term plan to secure bridges.
“We will also be discouraging the diabolic acts in our running themes and awareness campaigns on the road and community safety, going forward,” he said.
Sanral’s Eastern Region design and construction manager Ravi Ronny said enclosing the thousands of bridges in the national road network would result in substantial expenditures, and called on law enforcement to eradicate criminal elements.
“We have always indicated that providing screens over bridges is not the single solution. Rocks can still be thrown onto the freeway from the embankments on both sides of the bridge.
“Sanral is not a law enforcement agency and we rely on the SAPS and Road Traffic Inspectorate to deal with enforcement.”
eThekwini deputy mayor Fawzia Peer has called for safety barriers and closedcircuit cameras to be installed over bridges in hotspots.
She said: “This cannot be done overnight as normal council processes will have to take place and will also depend on funding.”
Kirthan Pillay had missiles thrown at his vehicle while driving under ‘Boys’ Town’ bridge in KZN on Friday.