Originally published in Cue.
Crime rates during the National Arts Festival have been relatively low so far, Grahamstown police confirmed yesterday. A few notable incidents have occurred, however.
A suspect in the armed robbery of the Grahamstown Post Office last month was arrested on Saturday after being recognised by an eyewitness. The eyewitness alerted police, who arrived on the scene shortly after and took the suspect into custody.
The suspect, identified as a 22-year-old local man, appeared briefly in the Grahamstown Magistrate’s Court yesterday. The case is being investigated by the Organised Crime Unit in Port Elizabeth.
On Friday, a mentally ill man suspected of stabbing his girlfriend after an altercation was taken into custody by police after they were called out to Zolani township. When they arrived, they found the suspect with his hands bound and arrested him, according to Grahamstown police spokesperson Captain Mali Govender.
The woman died on the way to hospital. The man, about whom no other information has yet been released, is currently being held in Fort England Psychiatric Hospital in Grahamstown pending a mental health evaluation and was charged in absentia with murder.
Yesterday, a bus carrying 44 schoolchildren, who had been in Grahamstown attending the Festival over the weekend, caught fire near Stone Crescent Hotel on its way back to Port Elizabeth. The fire is believed to have been caused by mechanical problems with the bus and was contained inside the engine compartment. Nobody was injured in the incident.
In small crime incidents, Grahamstown police have received a number of reports of theft. The majority of these incidents have been concentrated on Bertram Street and the Long Table restaurant.
“People leave their handbags over their chairs to get a drink and when they come back, there’s no handbag,” said Govender, who also urged all visitors to the Festival to take more responsibility for their belongings.
“You shouldn’t be parking your car in plain sight, for example, with your laptop on the back seat,” added Govender.
Police said that they have also made several arrests of people in possession of small amounts of marijuana.