Street under siege

The veld in question. The two people shown are walking from Corlett Avenue in the direction of the large tract of land behind the houses in Mark Twain Street. (Photo: Riaan van Zyl)

The 15 houses in Longfellow Street are hidden away just enough to have made them soft targets for housebreakings.

Almost every house in the street (see red arrow) has been targeted, some as many as five times. In the last month alone, one resident, who like the others we spoke to, does not want to be identified for fear of victimisation, said she was aware of at least five break-ins. Her own family fell prey to housebreakers just after 5am on Friday, 30 June. She said it has become very clear that the houses in the street are being watched and residents’ routines meticulously noted. She is now attempting to regularly change her routine. According to her, suspicious vehicles and people can often be seen, not only in the street but in the veld that crosses the street (see green arrow) and which is used as shortcut, not only by pedestrians but also vehicles, from Corlett Avenue to Mark Twain Street and in the huge empty tract of land behind the houses.

Read more: Photos: Housebreakers caught after high-speed chase and accident

An aerial view of the street in question. Photo: Google Maps.

Everyone, including Frik van Zyl of West Suburbs Roodepoort Neighbourhood Watch (WSRNW), is in agreement that the strip of veld is being used by criminals as a quick escape route. The specific resident in question said they have approached City Parks and various other municipal entities to assist with the problem of the veld but to no avail. Some residents have even taken to putting rocks on the strip in order to prevent vehicles from driving through it.

The woman’s father, a pensioner who resides with her, showed the Record the extensive security measures he has put in place, but said the criminals still manage to bypass them. Most of the houses in the street back onto Progress Road, while the others back onto Corlett Avenue. One would assume that these busy roads would be a deterrent for criminals but that is not the case. “The problem is that there are many individuals hanging around here under the guise of day labourers. For this reason, the people in passing vehicles take very little notice of them and they have ample time to watch and study houses and their occupants’ comings and goings,” said the pensioner. “Another problem is a business that is being run from a house nearby. Again there is a constant flow of strangers whose real intentions could be shady,” he said.

Van Zyl said the WSRNW has members in Longfellow Street but the veld remains a headache. He would be looking into the problem again but encouraged the residents of the street to join the Neighbourhood Watch. He can be contacted on 084 581 9223.

Edna Mamonyane, spokesperson for the Metro Police, has indicated that they will investigate the business in question to make sure it is legitimate and in accordance with the City’s by-laws.

Do you perhaps have more information pertaining to this story? Email us at [email protected] (remember to include your contact details) or phone us on 011 955 1130.

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Riaan van Zyl

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