Bridge at­tacks with rocks on in­crease in KZN

So­lu­tion im­pos­si­ble overnight – of­fi­cials

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - KARINDA JAG­MO­HAN

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.

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