Mechanic dies after street beating in broad daylight
● Family say attacker lay in wait for him after work
A Port Elizabeth mechanic has died after being attacked and beaten in the street, allegedly by an off-duty armed response officer, who the dead man’s family say had been lying in wait for him.
Ian van der Westhuizen, 22, died in the Livingstone Hospital on Tuesday evening.
Police confirmed that Atlas security armed response officer Jamey Swartz, 20, who was off duty at the time, had been arrested on Wednesday and released on R2,000 bail.
The attack happened shortly after Van der Westhuizen left work at Jetronic Services in Davies Street, Sidwell, at about 5.20pm on Tuesday, close to the intersection of Davies Road and Wright Street.
Several of Van der Westhuizen’s relatives witnessed the attack as they had stopped in the street to fetch him from work. They declined to be named, fearing for their safety.
One family member claimed the attacker had been hiding nearby when he saw Van der Westhuizen leaving the workshop.
“He [Van der Westhuizen] was walking across the road to his sister and father who were waiting in the car for him.
“As he was walking, this guy jumped out of nowhere and ran up behind him.
“He grabbed him from behind and pulled him backwards before throwing him against the wall. He just carried on hitting and kicking him. He did not even have a chance to defend himself.”
Van Der Westhuizen’s sister rushed to assist.
“As [Van der Westhuisen] dropped to the ground after hitting the wall, [the assailant] carried on kicking him. His sister tried to pull him off but he pushed her off.
“She picked up a brick to throw at him but he then ran away,” the man said.
Van Der Westhuizen’s father said he had jumped out of the car to assist but it had all happened too quickly.
“By the time I tried to stop him he was running off,” he said.
“One of the people from his work saw what happened and ran to assist.
“We put him in a car and rushed him to hospital.
“He was unconscious and his eyes rolled back,” a relative said.
Family members were then called by Van der Westhuizen’s sister and told of the attack.
Relatives went to the police station and identified the attacker, who was subsequently arrested. A relative said the attack might have stemmed from a previous argument between Van der Westhuizen and the attacker’s girlfriend.
Police spokesman Captain Johan Rheeder said the police probe was still under way.
“The police were alerted to [Van der Westhuizen] passing away in hospital and due to the circumstances, a murder case was opened,” he said.
“According to our preliminary information, [Van der Westhuizen] was beaten and kicked during an attack and died as a result of injuries sustained in the incident.”
Atlas Security operations manager Monty Montgomery said the incident had been reported to them and it was being investigated.
“As a precautionary measure, we have suspended [Swartz] pending our investigation and legal advice on the issue,” he added.
When contacted for comment Swartz’s lawyer, John Coetzee, said he was still consulting with his client adding that the family had been advised not to comment at this stage.
Swartz is due to appear in court again on December 13.