Armed criminals rob Crossroads youth centre

Ikamva Labantwana Bethu youth programme manager, Jonas Phoshoko, says the robbery was huge cost to the centre.

Staff at Ikamva Labantwana Bethu youth centre, a non-profit organisation based in Crossroads are in shock and counting the cost of 16 laptops stolen by five armed robbers on Friday November 1.

The criminals entered the premises pretending to be participants in the centre’s programmes.

Two entered while the others apparently waited outside the building just metres away from the entrance.

The two pulled out their guns and ordered everyone to move to the classes – and in that moment, the other three others made their way into the building, also armed.

They were carrying a black bag and quickly marched to the computer room. Within five minutes, the criminals were gone with laptops valued approximately at R100 000.

The organisation’s programme manager, Jonas Phoshoko, said this had stalled the organisation’s computer training programmes.

He told Vukani that the gate remained open so that the youth could access the building and that they did not have funds to employ security personnel to search people when they entered at the gate.

He, however, believes that the robbers were young people who were familiar with their premises and may have even attended their training programmes.

This, he said, could explain why their presence had not raised suspicion.

“Some of the laptops that were taken, we bought them this year. We are not safe and we fear for our lives. These are the tools that we use to empower our youth. We are a non-profit organisation. How are we going to replace them?

“We can’t teach computer classes anymore. I hope we could be funded to replace them. But we hope that we could get funds so that we could implement tight security measures,” he said.

Mr Phoshoko said the reality was that the people that rob them were from the very same community that they want to see changing and becoming a better place.

He said the organisation aimed to create educational opportunities for children with great potential from Crossroads township. He said the organisation works with children from grades 4 to 7, providing them with daily homework assistance, Saturday tutoring sessions, and academic enrichment programmes during the extended school holidays.

But, he said, they also train university students from Cape Town to serve as tutors.

Nyanga police station spokesperson, Captain Ntomboxolo Sitshitshi confirmed that a case of business robbery was being investigated. If you have information, contact SAPS Nyanga Detectives at 021 380 3320/6000 or Crime Stop at 08600 10111.