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Purnal Poonusamy
2 minute read
27 Mar 2021
06:19

New crime trend in KZN sees Hindu prayer poles stolen from homes

Purnal Poonusamy

An emerging crime trend in the KZN North Coast is seeing an age-old Hindu tradition being disrespected as thieves have begun targeting the metal Jhunda poles that are found in the outdoor prayer spaces of Hindu homes.

An emerging crime trend in the KZN North Coast is seeing an age-old Hindu tradition being disrespected as thieves have begun targeting the metal Jhunda poles that are found in the outdoor prayer spaces of Hindu homes.

Emergency services in the area say homes that use the metal poles instead of the bamboo ones are being targeted as the poles can be sold for scrap metal.

Chairperson of the Tongaat community policing forum, Nazir Sadack said the theft of the metal Jhunda poles is becoming a problem. He said they believe the poles are taken to scrapyards and exchanged for cash, and the scrapyards is where the police should check first. “The other key concern we have is that people just say, ‘Oh, the Jhunda pole is stolen so there is nothing to report’, and they don’t report it. So, it is not surfacing as a crime that is starting to grow. We are urging residents to please start reporting it,” he said.

Speaking on the importance of the Jhunda pole, the president of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, Ashwin Trikamjee, said Hindu devotees hoist a red flag (Jhunda) in honour of the Hindu deity Hanuman.

According to the Sabha, the red flag — known as a Jhunda — that is fixed to the top of the pole is the flag of Sanathan Dharma (Hindu Dharma), and Hanuman is the torchbearer of the Sanathan Dharma.

“Criminals operate with impunity. The long arm of the law needs to re-establish itself if the present state of affairs is to be halted. In the absence of this, it is a sad but harsh reality that the incidents will continue unabated.”
South African Hindu Maha Sabha president Ashwin Trikamjee

“The flagpole, which used to be bamboo but is these days being replaced by iron poles, is the symbol of Hanuman. The bamboo was used as a symbol to remind devotees to always remain upright and to never bend, just as the bamboo does not bend, even though it has knots on it.

“In other words, no matter how many problems or difficulties we may experience, we should continuously keep our heads up,” said Trikamjee.

Trikamjee said it was a sad reality that law and order had been diluted to the point where religious artefacts are being stolen from temples and homes.

“Criminals operate with impunity. The long arm of the law needs to re-establish itself if the present state of affairs is to be halted. In the absence of this, it is a sad but harsh reality that the incidents will continue unabated,” said Trikamjee.

The Pietermaritzburg-based Sri Siva Soobramoniar and Marriamen Temples said they have not received any reports of this nature, so don’t believe this is a problem in the area.