social media3Thanks to new social-networking apps, crime rates in Johannesburg – once the country’s crime capital – fall dramatically 

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa 

Residents of Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city, are using phone apps and social networking sites to tip police off to crimes in their neighborhoods.

South Africa has a high crime rate, with 47 murders reported a day, according to 2013/14 crime statistics released by the Police Ministry.

“We are currently using WhatsApp groups to share information with the police crime intelligence unit,” Abdurrahman Ricky, head of the Greater Mayfair Safety and Security (GMMS) group, which patrols Johannesburg’s Mayfair suburbs, told Anadolu Agency.

Ricky says his non-profit organization has been asking residents of Mayfair and surrounding districts to join their WhatsApp group and report crimes in the area.

“Many criminals have been apprehended since we started using WhatsApp and BBM messages. As a result, crime is falling tremendously in our neighborhoods,” Ricky asserted.

He said the GMSS group began using the app one year ago and was now networking with police and other security groups.

“Some members of our group are police officers and security operatives. The group has been very efficient in our community,” he said.

According to Ricky, crimes reported by community members include carjackings, burgalaries and loitering.

“Whenever we get a tipoff, we alert the police and rush to the scene,” he said.

Johannesburg resident Omar Ali believes that using the apps has helped give residents greater peace of mind.

“Our community is now connected to the various apps; it’s easier to communicate with them and report suspicious activity, thanks to technology,” he said.

Ali said his car was stolen two years ago – before the community had begun using the apps.

“If we were as vigilant as we are today, I don’t think my car would have been stolen,” he told Anadolu Agency.

CCTV

Meanwhile, the introduction of closed-circuit tevision (CCTV) cameras has helped reduce crime rates in Johannesburg’s city center, which used to be regarded as the most dangerous area in the country.

Violent muggings, cash-in-transit heists and bank robberies – among other serious crimes – used to be common occurrences in Johannesburg. But since the introduction of CCTV surveillance, such crimes have fallen dramatically.

“CCTV cameras have helped the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) reduce crime in the city’s Central Business District,” JMPD Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnar told Anadolu Agency.

He said there were currently over 240 cameras covering all the streets of the city center, while the authorities were planning to install 60 more.

“The camera footage is monitored 24/7 by security operators in the control room. If they spot a crime, they alert police officers on patrol who rush to the scene,” he said.

According to Minnar, since the introduction of the CCTV cameras, there has been a decline in serious crimes like the bombing of automated cash machines (ATMs) and bank robberies.

He also said police use recorded CCTV footage to identify and prosecute criminals.

– ‘Without fear’

“The CCTV cameras have made it possible for us to go about our businesses freely without fear,” Johannesburg shop owner Mohammed Asim told Anadolu Agency. “Because we know security officers can retrieve the recorded footage and apprehend anyone who robs us.”

Yusuf Abramjee, who runs “Crime Line,” an anonymous crime tip-off service, agrees that technology is helping fight crime.

“There’s no doubt that technology is playing a major role in fighting crime in South Africa. We were the first country in the world to use SMS messaging to report crimes through anonymous tip-offs,” he told Anadolu Agency.

As a result of such anonymous tip-offs, Abramjee said, thousands of arrests had been made, while millions of rand worth of stolen goods had been recovered.

“The community has been very cooperative in giving us tip-offs to apprehend criminals and preventing crimes that would have occurred otherwise,” he added.

1632804275Johannesburg – A gang using a white Mercedes-Benz have been targeting the residents of Houghton over the past two months.

The gang of five men have been involved in numerous armed robberies and hijackings in the upmarket suburb.

Yaseen Theba, from Vision Tactical, said they had been getting reports about incidents involving the white Mercedes since the beginning of December and, on Sunday, the security company spotted the car and gave chase.

But they lost sight of it as it disappeared on Louis Botha Avenue near Alexandra. The registration number of the Mercedes is unknown.

Theba said there had been 12 sightings of the car in Houghton since December. It has a sunroof, tinted windows and LED lights on the bumper.

The gang of five wear masks and gloves. Their modus operandi is to lift up electronic gates to gain access to properties.

About three weeks ago, a man driving a white Mercedes ML stopped at an Engen service station to draw money. Shortly afterwards, on the corner of Glenhove Road and Fifth Street, he was held up. Cash and his watch were taken and the men drove off in his car, Theba said.

The car was recovered a few blocks away, and witnesses saw the gang get into a white Mercedes that was waiting for them, and drive off.

“We suspect they noticed his watch at the petrol station,” Theba added.

Last Thursday morning, the gangsters entered the house of a businessman and held him and two assistants at gunpoint. They made off with valuables and a light-metallic grey Audi Q5.

Theba said the men are well dressed, and on a few occasions, they have been seen driving around the suburb with three men and a woman in the car.

They were stopped once or twice by various security companies in the neighbourhood. The officers were told that the men were brothers and were just dropping their sister off.

“We have noticed that they aren’t stealing cellphones or iPads or any electronics that can be traced.

“They are taking cash, jewellery and watches,” Theba pointed out.

Crime Line has appealed to anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the robbers to SMS 32211 or call Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

If the car is spotted, call 10111.

Crime Line’s Yusuf Abramjee said indications were that the robbers were well organised.

angelique.serrao@inl.co.za

1632804275Johannesburg – A gang using a white Mercedes-Benz have been targeting the residents of Houghton over the past two months.

The gang of five men have been involved in numerous armed robberies and hijackings in the upmarket suburb.

Yaseen Theba, from Vision Tactical, said they had been getting reports about incidents involving the white Mercedes since the beginning of December and, on Sunday, the security company spotted the car and gave chase.

But they lost sight of it as it disappeared on Louis Botha Avenue near Alexandra. The registration number of the Mercedes is unknown.

Theba said there had been 12 sightings of the car in Houghton since December. It has a sunroof, tinted windows and LED lights on the bumper.

The gang of five wear masks and gloves. Their modus operandi is to lift up electronic gates to gain access to properties.

About three weeks ago, a man driving a white Mercedes ML stopped at an Engen service station to draw money. Shortly afterwards, on the corner of Glenhove Road and Fifth Street, he was held up. Cash and his watch were taken and the men drove off in his car, Theba said.

The car was recovered a few blocks away, and witnesses saw the gang get into a white Mercedes that was waiting for them, and drive off.

“We suspect they noticed his watch at the petrol station,” Theba added.

Last Thursday morning, the gangsters entered the house of a businessman and held him and two assistants at gunpoint. They made off with valuables and a light-metallic grey Audi Q5.

Theba said the men are well dressed, and on a few occasions, they have been seen driving around the suburb with three men and a woman in the car.

They were stopped once or twice by various security companies in the neighbourhood. The officers were told that the men were brothers and were just dropping their sister off.

“We have noticed that they aren’t stealing cellphones or iPads or any electronics that can be traced.

“They are taking cash, jewellery and watches,” Theba pointed out.

Crime Line has appealed to anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the robbers to SMS 32211 or call Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

If the car is spotted, call 10111.

Crime Line’s Yusuf Abramjee said indications were that the robbers were well organised.

The Star