FOLLOWING the grisly discovery of an as yet unidentified woman’s mutilated body just outside the Pigeon Valley Reserve fence in Mazisi Kunene Road, a concerted effort by the Friends of Pigeon Valley is currently underway to have the boundary fence moved closer to the road edge.
The woman’s partially naked body was found by Sisheshe Bonginkosi Slangwe of Pigeon Valley as he was on a routine walk around the reserve on 23 January to check on work carried out by his staff.
The head, nipples, finger and genitals had been removed.
Crispin Hemson of the group, Friends of Pigeon Valley, said the shocking find had prompted members of the group to do something as a matter of urgency.
“It appears the woman was lured down the bank alongside the road and killed,” he said.
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The current position of the boundary fence, according to Hemson, means there is a constant threat that others might be lured down the embankment.
He said before the discovery of the woman’s body, people had used the embankment as an illegal dumping ground.
“We have for some time been in discussion with the management of Natural Resources and Conservation on the issue of replacing the fence and moving it much closer to the road, so that there is no longer an embankment down which people can disappear. I have written to Mr Kenneth Mabila of Natural Resources about accelerating this process, which was only due to be undertaken in 2019. I have since inspected the along the fence and found one section that is falling apart. It is already possible for any agile person to get through the fence in a matter of seconds,” he said.
According to Hemson, he was aware that funds were available to upgrade the track in the reserve but he has instead appealed to Mabila to find funding to move and fix the section of fencing alongside the road at the northern boundary of the reserve.
“This is definitely the area that exposes the greatest threat of both criminal attacks on people and the safety of pedestrians as well as illegal dumping,” he said, adding that there had been a number of reports of workers and university students being mugged along this stretch of road. “We are sure we can work with management to have these issues addressed,” said Hemson.
He said a request had also been made to the management of the reserve to provide more frequent ranger patrols and more frequent organised walks in the reserve.
“At present I lead a monthly walk, but we are now planning to have more, even if it is just a group that goes around the reserve together, to encourage a greater number of people to use the area in safety. At present many people are just too anxious to go around on their own,” he said.
Meanwhile, police have confirmed that a 32-year-old suspect, has been charged with the murder of the unknown woman.
He appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s court where the matter has been remanded. Police have appealed for the woman’s next of kin to contact Umbilo SAPS.
This is not the first incident where a mutilated body of a woman has been found in Berea parks.
Six months ago an unknown woman’s body was found in the bush at Stellawood Cemetery.
Police reported that she had been raped and strangled. No arrests have been made.
In August 2016, the decapitated body of a woman was found in a park on Edith Benson Crescent and in May 2014, a woman’s body was found in Jameson Park.
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Following the incident, police have warned sex workers in the area to be careful and many have expressed concern about working the streets at night for fear of becoming victims.
Esther Madikane from the Domino Foundation’s Red Light Programme said they were very aware of the physical danger the women were in, no matter what part of the city they were working in.
“My concern is that if sex workers are merely persuaded to move away from certain neighbourhoods without the deeper issues which provide the fertile ground for human-trafficking being addressed, they will more than likely move to areas where their physical danger increases,” she said.
Police appeal to anyone with a missing family member to contact Umbilo police station on 031 203 2407/6 or Crime Stop on 08600 10111.
If you are interested in joining the Friends on walks, contact Crispin on [email protected] or 082 926 5333.
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