Home burnt after raid

2010-08-18 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG man was accused of torching his employee’s home in the presence of police officers yesterday afternoon following the disappearance of more than R100 000 after a break-in at his business.

Now the police say the arrest of the manager of the oil and soap factory in Chesterfield Road, Mountain Rise, is imminent.

Police are still investigating a case of housebreaking and theft of R125 000 from the factory. The two suspects, who worked for the factory, have disappeared.

It is alleged that two factory managers and two police officers from Mountain Rise police station went to a house in Golden Way, Cinderella Park, where one of the theft suspects rented a room, to search for the stolen money at about 2 pm yesterday. After the search was unsuccessful, one of the managers lit a fire and torched the suspect’s room, which was built out of planks.

The suspect’s room and another room, which is occupied by his neighbour, were completely burnt down with everything inside. Only twisted corrugated iron sheets, burnt electric appliances and ashes remained next to main house belonging to the landlord.

The theft suspect’s relative, who also rents a room in the same home, said he was present when one of his employers started the fire.

The relative, who works for the same company, said the trouble started yesterday morning when his two employers summoned him into their office to show him a video footage of the housebreaking. He said they questioned him about the crime.

“In the video there was my relative and another man, who also worked for the same company.

“They [employers] then took my cellphone and went through the received calls. They questioned me about a conversation which I had with my relative at about 11 am,” he said.

He said his relative told him over the cellphone that he was on his way to Gauteng.

The man said the two managers tied his hands with a cable tie, but released him before two police officers arrived.

“They questioned me before handing me to two officers, who, together with the two managers, took me to search for the money in the house,” he said.

He said they found his relative’s room locked and they kicked the door open before ransacking the room.

“After a while the two officers, one manager and I left the suspect’s room to search mine. The fire started when one manager was left in my relative’s room,” he said.

His neighbour, Nobuhle Beba (29), whose room was also destroyed by fire, said she was relaxing in her room when one of the managers lit the fire.

“The manager was in my neighbour’s room when I first saw the smoke.

“As the fire grew they were laughing outside as they walked to their vehicles with the police officers, who were in civilian clothes. They all left our homes burning,” Beba said.

The destroyed rooms were built againt the landlord’s one-room house, which was also slightly damaged. The 42-year-old unemployed landlord, Lindani Nsele, rents rooms out.

Msunduzi Municipality electricity department technicians arrived to disconnect the power after Nsele’s electricity box was damaged.

Beba said her ID, cash, clothes, electric appliances and furniture were all destroyed.

“I was in my house when this man started the fire,” said Nsele.

The two police officers who initially questioned the suspect’s relative arrived at the house after Msunduzi Municipality firefighters had finished putting out the fire.

They were heard questioning their colleague over the phone about how they could watch while the manager burnt the rooms.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said a case of arson has been opened, which will soon be followed by an arrest.

“If this happened in the presence of the police, it is a serious allegation, and it needs to be substantiated and investigated,” she said.

She also confirmed that a case of house breaking and theft of R125 000 was opened yesterday morning.

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