The ‘Hammer Gang’ is once again on the prowl, this time targeting Musgrave Centre in Berea.

A scene from the video footage at Musgrave Centre

Surveillance footage shows the gang relentlessly smashing through the front glass of a jewellery store at the centre on Friday night. The gang then grabs a handful of valuables and flee the scene.

Commenting on the robbery, SAPS spokesperson, Captain Nqobile Gwala said, “On 2 June 2017 at about 10pm, watches were allegedly stolen from a business premises in Musgrave after five unknown males broke in. A case of business burglary was opened at Berea police station for investigation. No arrests have been made.”

Malls hit in the last six months include; The Galleria Mall, Bluff Towers, The Pearls Mall, Musgrave Centre, The Atrium and Southway Mall, Gateway, Scottburgh Mall, Watercrest Mall, Pinecrest Shopping Centre, Kloof Village Mall, The Pavilion, La Lucia Mall and Westwood Mall, raiding over a reported R400 000 in store items. The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry has since held a multi-stakeholder Durban United Against Crime Dialogue to address the situation.

“Crime is a deterrent that will continue to put our economy under tremendous pressure unless all stakeholders take a firm stand,” said Alta Keyter, spokesperson for Chamber of Commerce. Addressing businesses at the dialogue, the president of the Durban Chamber, Zeph Ndlovu, said it was a civic responsibility to help fight the scourge of crime. Mr Mthethwa, the Deputy Chief of the Metro Police, outlined the mandate of the Metro Police which was crime prevention, traffic enforcement and by-law enforcement.  He highlighted that malls were treated as private property and Metro Police could not intervene without a service level agreement between the city and those private entities. Addressing visible policing, Mthethwa said that the Metro Police would be undergoing a recruitment drive (recruiting 200 per year). This drive will aim to address issues of professionalism, establishing a code of conduct and reviewing and revising policies to address issues. In addition, he indicated that crime prevention first starts with communities addressing key issues.

The Safety and Justice Chairperson of the Durban Chamber outlined that businesses needed to hold law enforcement agencies accountable. She went on to say that there needs to be communication and planning around business for such crimes. In addition, businesses should consider crime prevention methods/strategies. During the dialogue, stakeholders proposed solutions to fighting crime. Dumile Cele, CEO of the Durban Chamber added that busting crime and grime was a key vision of the Durban Chamber.

“Therefore the Durban Chamber will continue to advocate for a city in which compliance with laws and regulations is the order of the day and all parts of the city are maintained at a high level,” she said. “In addition, the Durban Chamber encourages business people and consumers to remain vigilant and on high alert against such criminal elements.” Durban Chamber called upon businesses, government, community representatives and law enforcement agencies to unite in the fight against crime in the city.

“Through this initiative, we aim to protect existing and attract additional investment in the city but most importantly ensure that no human suffers through the hands of another. As the Durban Chamber we abhor any crime in our city. The prevalence of crime in our commercial centres is of serious concern to the business community as it has highly negative effects on doing business,” added Keyter.  Police state it is unclear as to whether the incidents are related to a single gang, despite similar modus operandi. Investigations continue.

Comment from Musgrave Centre was not forthcoming at the time of going to press.