Durban Temples Increase Security After Robbery Incidents
Temples in Durban have put more security measures in place after devotees were robbed at Luxmi Narayan Temple and Maha Shiv Mandir.
Security personnel are increasingly being deployed at places of worship in Durban, South Africa, following a series of robberies at Hindu temples in the city this month. While heavily armed guards were keeping a watch at temples on August 25 on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, security arrangements are likely to be put in place at mosques in view of the Eid Al Adha celebration on September 1.
Temples are taking measures such as installing fences and alarm systems, sponsored by devotees. Increased security, free of charge, was provided to temples across Reservoir Hills on August 25 night, Rodney Moodley, of Inkosi Security, was quoted as saying by Daily News. “Whether it’s a temple, mosque or church, my guys are equipped and ready for any situation. We are willing to assist any religious organisation at no cost,” Moodley said, adding that they were also providing security at three weddings at temples during the weekend.
The safety measures have been prompted by two robbery attacks Hindu temples in the last 10 days. Devotees at the Luxmi Narayan Temple in Mobeni Heights were cornered by a gang of armed men who stole their cellphones, wallets and handbags on August 23. They also stole three vehicles, which were later found in Lamontville. The incident is said to have taken place while language classes were being held at the temple. Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane told the media that five men walked into the temple at night and robbed people present inside the premises at gunpoint.
A temple official, who wanted to remain anonymous, said about 20 students belonging to different age groups were attending Sanskrit classes when the attackers entered the temple, according to media reports. “They told learners to sit on the floor and not to look up at them. The robbery was quick and nobody was injured. However, everybody is in a state of shock,” he was quoted as saying. A guard on duty was also shoved into a corner near the entrance and a woollen hat was pulled over his face.
Local resident Parthap Haripersadh, who was at the temple on the night of the attack, said, “This guy came in with a gun with about five or six other guys behind him. All of us were shocked. He told us to keep quiet and said, ‘If you look at us, we will shoot you’,” the Independent reported. Temple treasurer Dhiraj Gordhan, who was in a different room, pressed the panic button on hearing the commotion, it added.
The incident came on the heels of another robbery on August 14 at the Maha Shiv Mandir on Hippo Road in Sea Cow Lake. A gathering of about 50 worshippers was attacked during the Krishna Janmashtami celebrations when a group of robbers held them at gunpoint. The criminals asked everybody to lie down on the floor, and robbed people of cellphones and wallets, while women’s jewellery was taken away. An undisclosed amount of cash was also stolen from the donation box.
Vish Singh, public relations officer of the Isipingo Hindi Sabha, told the Independent that he was in touch with several concerned religious organisations. “It’s not acceptable that we come to a place to pray and we get attacked. We are soft targets,” he said. “Apart from normal security measures, we have devotees who will stand watch while prayers or other events go on. We pray for peace.”
“Religious institutions are soft targets for robbers,” Ashwin Trikamjee, president of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, told Daily News. “Nobody attends services with any kind of threat in mind, security is non-existent for all the right reasons. The robbers clearly see them as soft targets.”
Churches and mosques are also taking looking at measures to prevent such incidents, Daily News reported.