Cops rush to change shift, leaving victims facing death
AN MPUMALANGA couple’s Easter holiday visit to the South Coast was ruined last weekend after they were robbed at gunpoint along the N3 Freeway near the Spaghetti Junction.
At about 5 am on Saturday, the Ford Ranger that Sarie and Andrei van Rensburg were driving came to a standstill after hitting large boulders that were placed on the freeway.
While inspecting the vehicle’s punctured wheels, the Van Rensburgs, who live in Secunda, were held up by four men, one allegedly armed with a 9mm pistol. The others were brandishing knives. Although two SAPS police officers had pulled over soon after the incident, the officers allegedly advised that they were changing shift, but would ensure other officers on duty would be dispatched to the scene. However it was only shortly before 7am that SAPS members arrived. Van Rensburg said if it had not been for an off-duty Metro policewoman who lived nearby, they believe they might have been killed while waiting for SAPS assistance.
Van Rensburg, who is a former army officer, said he and his wife were shocked and disgusted that the two SAPS officers had abandoned them when they needed police protection.
“The officers who stopped to see if we were OK were useless. They did not even have the bravery to patrol the area after I had fought off the armed thugs,” said Van Rensburg. “We were left in total frustration and could not understand why changing a shift was more important to them than our safety,” said Sarie.
She said during the scuffle her husband was cut on the nose and arm. She had begged her husband not to put up a fight but rather let the robbers help themselves to groceries, cash and clothes.
“They had charged like a pack of hyenas” said Sarie. “After taking our groceries and valuables they fled, but then came back again a few minutes later,” she said. “We let them take all our valuables.”
Sarie said she had tried to flag down passing cars for help but no motorists had dared to stop in the deserted area. She said if it had not been for the Metro policewoman who had come to their aid, they might have been killed.
The Metro officer, who lives in nearby Chesterville, was driving to work when she came upon the couple walking away from the scene.
Metro police captain Greg Beavon said he had dispatched a van after receiving a call from the officer who had stayed with the couple until back-up had arrived.
“I dispatched the van from beach patrol headquarters because I feared for their safety. The area is deserted and has been full of horrific robbery stories, including rock throwing,” he said.
SAPS spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele confirmed that a case of robbery had been opened, but said she was not aware of the allegations that SAPS members failed to help the victims stranded by the roadside.
“We advise the victims to see Cator Manor station commander so that the matter will be investigated,” she said.