Subway attacks

Liesbeeck subway between Liesbeeck West Road and Upper Liesbeeck Road.

A Rosebank subway will forever be a place of fear for four women who have spoken out about how they were mugged there in separate incidents.

The subway links Liesbeeck West Road to Upper Liesbeeck Road, which leads to the Main Road and access to shops and public transport, but those using it take a chance they won’t fall prey to muggers.
Chance wasn’t on Rosebank resident Priscilla McGregor’s side on a Wednesday morning in August last year when a mugger punched her in the face and took her handbag.

Then last month, on Saturday February 17, it was her daughter, Kristen’s, turn to get mugged in the same subway.
Kristen, 25, recalls it was about 10am and she was going down the stairs at the subway when a man approached her from the opposite direction.

He was “decent looking” and well dressed.

“He came to me and said that I must give my phone to him, and he reached into my pocket and took it. As he was was taking my phone apart, he pulled on my gym bag and asked for my wallet and I said that there is nothing in there. He threw my SIM card on the floor and ran off to the main road.”

Priscilla said that what had happened to her and her daughter had left her shaken and she feared for the safety of women in the neighbourhood.

“I feel very insecure and fearful of using the subway again,” she said.

“If I walked and saw a man, whether decent or not, my alerts would go up, and I would be very fearful and careful and sometimes I would turn back.”

She said she had spoken to ward councillor Patrick Chapple after she was mugged and asked him to clear bushes above the subway.

“I complained that if we can cut down the bushes at least, then we can see who is on the other side.”

She said Liesbeeck West Road was a quiet area, even during peak times, and women using the subway felt vulnerable to muggings.

Beulah Jurius was mugged in the subway on Thursday November 16. It had been about 1.30pm.

“I don’t feel safe in this area anymore, especially going under the subway,” she said.

Angelis Abrahams was mugged in the subway one rainy morning in July 2014 when she was seven months’ pregnant.

A man stopped her and demanded her bag, while another two men stood lookout.

“I did my best to fight him off because I had my baby’s ultrasound scans. He then smacked me twice, grabbed my handbag. The three of them ran up the stairs, jumped into a white car and they were gone.”

Then just three months ago, muggers approached her again in the same subway as she was walking with her now 3-year-old child.

But this time it was another woman’s turn.

“Two guys walked towards me, and it was clear to me what their intentions were. Because of what happened previously, I find myself hypersensitive to my surroundings wherever I go.”

She witnessed the men go on to mug the other woman and felt helpless at not being able to do anything to stop it happening.

Jonathan Hobday, chairman of Mowbray Community Police Forum (CPF), said they were worried about the state of some of the subways and had urged the City and Metrorail to do more to maintain them.

“Our view is that grime leads to crime and we would like to see these subways better-kept and maintained, painted and repaired, well-lit and well-signposted – as well as being kept under constant surveillance.”

Mr Chapple said he had tabled a motion at this month’s sub-council meeting seeking guidelines on how subways could be closed or opened and what public participation was needed for that.

Mowbray police did not respond to questions by the time this edition went to print.