SINCE the tragic death of Simon Milliken at Burman Bush Nature Reserve on 31 August, eThekwini Municipality has scrambled to allocate budget for fencing to secure the reserve.
Ryan Smith, who operates a paintball business out of Burman Bush welcomed the move. Smith confirmed he was aware of more than 10 muggings at the reserve since he started his business at the end of 2016.
“It’s a pity nothing was done before to stop the crime at the reserve. There have been more than 10 occasions that visitors to the reserve have come to me to report a mugging. People have been approached by muggers while walking down the road from the top gate, or have parked at the top and been mugged. The people have come to me for help and I have called the police to open a case,” he said.
Smith said in all incidents there had been no violence. Victims had been threatened with a gun, which he said may have been a toy gun.
Vising conductor, Perry So who was with Milliken when they were approached by a man in the reserve on that fateful Friday afternoon reportedly told journalists that the man had produced a gun and demanded they give him their belongings. So did as the man demanded but said Milliken had refused. The man had then threatened to shoot Milliken and produced a knife. A scuffle ensued during which it is thought Milliken was stabbed. So and Milliken ran off in different directions to escape. According to reports, So said it had taken about 40 minutes before someone assisted him and called police, who he said had taken almost an hour to arrive.
According to Smith, he had finished work for the day when he received a call from a police officer about the attack. He said he opened the top gate for the police to access the reserve and joined the search from 6pm to 2.30am.
“Two officers from the K9 Unit and a patrol dog arrived between 8.30pm and 9pm. The police searched the perimeters of the reserve for Simon. The second search dog and police from the Empangeni Search and Rescue arrived at 1am, which was too late,” he said.
Smith said earlier in the evening he had asked the police if he could accompany So to where the incident had happened as he was keen to help, however the police told him they would ruin the trail. He said he had been told by police that there had been a function for IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s birthday party at Durban’s International Convention Centre that evening and that there was a huge police presence there to ensure the safety of dignitaries and politicians.
“Once again politics wins as police were needed there rather than to help look for an injured victim. A group of police who were involved in high priority crime arrived at midnight and seemed frustrated as they had been sent out to deal with two murders in Durban that night, when they could have been helping with the search of someone who was missing and presumed alive. Unfortunately they had to follow protocol,” he said.
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