String of murders leaves township residents uneasy

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Around 30 Ward 10 residents march to demand no bail for the suspect in a murder case on Wednesday morning. Photo supplied

On Wednesday morning (15 August) some 30 Joza residents gathered in protest outside the Magistrate’s Court in High Street. Residents held signs reading “Stop The Violence” and “Breaking The Silence of Killing”. This in response to at least three recent reports of murders of women in Grahamstown, and one attempted murder.

The protesters demanded that the suspect in the gruesome murder of Noloyiso Speelman, whose body was found, burned, in a ditch between N Street and Scotts Farm on 6 August be denied bail.

Residents handed over a signed petition to the Chief Magistrate emphasising “no bail for perpetrators of rape and murder”. Nevadia Adriaan-Daniels led the prosecution and the man abandoned his bail application. He will appear in court on 15 September.

Speelman’s murder is not the only incidence of violence reported in recent weeks. Grocott’s Mail has received unconfirmed reports of other murders. Despite August being Women’s Month, it is clear that women in East Grahamstown have faced extreme violence and victimisation. Adriaan-Daniels, speaking to Grocott’s Mail about what appeared to be a recent spike in crime, suggested that such cases of violent crime were often drug related.

On 12 August, SAPS released a statement requesting public information concerning the possible attempted murder of a young woman found in L Street at 4.30am in a critical condition. The severely battered woman in her twenties was picked up by ambulance with upper body injury and possible sexual assault. Residents of L Street questioned by Grocott’s Mail were not aware of the attack on the woman, and found it strange to hear of such an incident on their seemingly quiet street.

Ward 7 councillor Malibongwe Khubalo said that he had heard about the case through Grocott’s Mail, but no one he spoke to in the area knew about the incident. “I sent a query for information about it to ward committee members, but none responded and it seems they also hadn’t heard of the incident,” he said. SAPS is still searching for information relating to the attack and the victim remains in hospital.

Residents in the area have spoken about other recent instances of gender-based violence, but SAPS were unable to provide information aside from the L Street incident and Speelman’s case.

Khubalo said a more visible police presence would improve safety in the area.“The police should align their operational sectors with the municipal wards,” he said. “That way they would be able to allocate a certain number of vans per ward.”

Responding to this, SAPS spokesperson Captain Mali Govender said, “The suggestions are extremely valuable. It is encouraged that the community be involved with the community police forums at stations where such input and suggestions are tabled.”

“The Community Police Forum is held monthly. We are continually urging the community to bring forth information on crime and criminal activity. The forum addresses our ‘hot spot’ areas and works closely with the SAPS  to curb crime.”

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