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Joburg arson attacks need to be taken seriously

Image: 123RF/ scanrail

It is beyond scary that someone is going around Johannesburg robbing wealthy homeowners in the city’s northern suburbs, locking them in their homes and then setting the houses alight.

As a top criminal profiler has warned, someone is going to die soon if he  is not stopped.

According to an article in the Sunday Times, the arsonist may be linked to at least a dozen of these incidents.

Residents in these areas are too afraid to sleep at night, not knowing where or when the arsonist may strike next.

The  deliberate intent to incinerate people in their homes is hard to fathom.

In one instance, the garden hose was cut and the outside tap connector removed, seemingly to slow any efforts to douse the blaze and rescue the elderly couple trapped inside the house.

But what are the police doing to catch this brazen criminal?

Despite police saying three weeks ago that they had put together a team to investigate the reports of arson, they have said nothing further since then, and repeated attempts by the Sunday Times to get comment from them have been to no avail.

Why the silence? Surely the terrified residents have a right to know how close the investigators are to catching the perpetrator?

According to an investigative forensic psychologist and independent profiler, the arsonist will not stop of his own accord and will strike again —. and someone is bound to die eventually if he is not stopped.

A resident who lives near one of the torched houses said: “If there is a problem, I call security. At least I know they are taking this seriously.”

One of the victims voiced frustration at the lack of feedback on the police investigation.

“How close are they to finding out who is doing this?

“Why is there no effort to put out pictures and information on what we know? [There are pictures and video footage of the suspected arsonist].

“This guy is out there, he eats somewhere, he stays somewhere. People know him. It can’t be that difficult [to catch him,” he said.

Providing feedback on the progress of the investigation would give the assurance that the police are on top of the case and would go a long way towards easing the residents’ anxiety.

Is it really too much to ask?

Keeping quiet only gives rise to the suspicion that no headway has been made and that the residents’ claims that the arson incidents are not being taken seriously hold water. 

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