Murder incites Kenton protest

ROB KNOWLES and JON HOUZET

ANGRY residents gathered at the Kenton-on-Sea Magistrate’s Court last Friday morning to protest the murder of an 86-year-old woman who was brutally beaten at her home in May and died in hospital a fortnight ago.

At the time of the protest the two youths, aged 13 and 15, charged with her murder appeared in camera, meaning only the children’s immediate family were allowed into court to witness the proceedings.

The youths are suspected of beating up Annette Southey at her home in an attempted robbery in May. Southey sustained head injuries and was taken to hospital in Port Elizabeth. She remained in a coma until she died last week.

FED UP: About 50 people gathered outside the Kenton-on-Sea Magistrate’s Court last Friday morning to protest the alarming increase in crime in the village recently. Inside the court, two youths were appearing on charges of murder following the death of 86-year-old Annette Southey, who was attacked in her Kenton home in May Picture: ROB KNOWLES

The initial charge of attempted murder was changed to murder after Southey’s death.

The case, which began almost an hour after its scheduled start due to the late arrival of the magistrate, was postponed until July 12. In the meantime both youths have been released to the custody of their families.

“We are tired of the crime and corruption in our little town,” said protest organiser Phillipa Tinley. “Crime has escalated dramatically, and residents are outraged.”

Although timed to coincide with the appearance in court of the youths, the protest was held to draw the authorities’ attention to the many alleged crimes taking place throughout the area. The many placards carried by the protestors read like a litany of the crimes experienced throughout South Africa including corruption, sexual abuse, child and woman abuse and murder.

“Kenton now has some of the highest crime statistics in the Ndlambe region,” Tinley claimed. “It happens across all racial lines and income groups, and the only way we are going to control it is by us all working together.

“Together we can motivate improvements in security in order to bring the crime rate down.

“We are particularly angered by the apparent lack of will of the authorities in combating crime, and the general lack of correctional measures taken against perpetrators.”

Towards the end of June the Kenton-on-Sea Ratepayers Association and Kenton Chamber of Business and Tourism issued a joint “urgent security notice” with the police that several recent incidents had given rise to concerns about day-to-day security.

“These incidents have involved theft and in some cases armed assault,” the statement said.

It mentioned the assault on Southey and home invasion of well-known tax guru and university professor Matthew Lester, who was held up at knifepoint, bound and robbed of all his electronic equipment.

“The view is that the recent release of approximately 72 prisoners in the Port Alfred / Kenton /Alexandria area has given rise to this increase in criminal activity,” the warning read.

“While some of the incidents have been petty in nature, the most recent have been more serious and obviously highly organised.

“Without wishing to create an atmosphere of panic, we urge ask you all to take every necessary precaution to secure yourselves and your property by both day and night.”

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