WiFi users in the Pretoria CBD are increasingly targeted by criminals, which has lead to police warning residents to use safe areas when accessing the internet on mobile devices in the city.
Last week, it emerged that suspects were now targeting pupils for their cellphones on the corner of Edmond and Hospital streets in Arcadia, Rekord East reported.
Resident Sime Mlapisane said her son, Jordan, 13, fell victim to the crime recently. Jordan was robbed of his cellphone while walking with three friends after school some weeks ago.
“Criminals are targeting young children and women because they are the most vulnerable in our society. We are trying our best to fight this problem and inform people not to display their cellphones,” police spokesperson Warrant Officer George Khoza said.
He said a pupil or a person listening to music using their headsets while the cellphone was dangling in their pocket, made it easier for criminals to target them.
He said the Sunnyside area of the capital had high instances of cellphone, tablet and laptop robberies at gunpoint in broad daylight in recent months.
“It is better to access WiFi from home. We see people walking around carrying their laptops, tablets and cellphones which are then taken by criminals at gunpoint. Rather sit in a safe place such as fast food takeaway restaurants where it is safer,” Khoza said.
Tshwane mayoral spokesperson Blessing Manale said the safety of residents and their belongings remained the job of police.
He said the metro was in the process of installing CCTV and streetlights at certain hotspots such as in Sunnyside and at Church square to make it safer.
“We also have a safety app people can use. It calls the closest metro police officers automatically nearest to you when in danger,” Manale said.
“We urge people not to visit hotspots on their own,” he said.
Dr Connie Haasbroek, a senior psychology of education lecturer at Unisa said police should protect people from crime.
“If police say we should not carry cellphones, they are infringing our rights. It is our right to be protected,” Haasbroek said.
“If it is not safe for children to visit WiFi hotspots. They should have hotspots at school and also regulate internet usage. Teach pupils how to use the internet the correct way,” Haasbroek said.
– Caxton News Service