Robbers target Carehaven shelter

The intruders broke the door of the skills room.

Robbers have struck again at an Athlone refuge for victims of abuse.

The Salvation Army Carehaven shelters destitute women and children from abusive homes.

The break-ins make them feel anxious and scared, says the home’s administrator, Marinda Lang.

On Wednesday February 19, intruders broke the home’s fence and pistol-whipped a security guard.

They broke the security gate and door and entered the skills room where, among other items, they stole material and clothes the women had made and were preparing to sell.

They also tried to take the donated sewing machines.

They returned on Friday February 28 and broke the front door and stole pots and pans, the microwave, and kettle, from the creché, and food from the cooler room.

Ms Lang said the robbers were using a bakkie as a get-away vehicle.

“It is very sad that they keep doing this to us. We have improved or security, but they keep coming back. They wait for the security to go to the bathroom and then they break-in. This really upsets our women and they say that they feel safer at home.”

The home’s skills programme has stalled because of the robberies.

“We have really had enough now. I don’t know what else to do. Every time we replace something, they steal it again. They don’t even work softly anymore; they make so much noise because they just don’t care about what they are doing.”

In 2019 the Salvation Army Carehaven also suffered more than one break-in (“Women’s shelter repeatedly vandalised,” Athlone News, August 21, 2019), and in 2018 as well (“Salvation Carehaven a soft target,” Athlone News, April 18, 2018.)

Athlone police spokeswoman Sergeant Zita Norman said police patrolled the area regularly as it was a crime hot spot.

The home gets some of its funding from the Department of Social Development, whose spokeswoman, Esther Lewis, said the department had sought a meeting with the home’s management to discuss security there.

“Debriefing is offered to all staff and clients by social workers or counsellors,” she said.