‘Lazy policing’ enrages hotelier

2013-11-22 00:00

A HOTEL owner is furious with Creighton police who left him, his wife, staff and patrons at the mercy of armed gunmen, and then failed dismally to follow up on information after the robbery.

Chris Vermaak feels the “lazy policing” could have cost them their lives.

He told The Witness that at around 7 pm on Sunday night five men from out of town entered the hotel bar and bought cooldrinks.

“The bar normally closes at about 8 pm on a Sunday night, and when the employee went to lock up, five armed men shoved her and three patrons back into the bar. The patrons were told to lie on the floor and the employee was asked what time I would come to the bar to cash up,” said Vermaak.

Pinky Mkhize, the employee, told them he could come at any time and they decided to wait. They tied her up while they ransacked the bar.

An alert local traffic officer for iNgwe Municipality, Khanyisani Dlomo, who was walking past the hotel at the time, told The Witness that he noticed a group of people coming out.

“As they saw me, they quickly returned inside and that made me suspect that there was something wrong and I phoned the police. Later, I even checked with them if they did attend and was told that they went to the scene, but found nothing suspicious,” said Dlomo.

Vermaak said, “Police responded but did not notice that there were two doors, facing the streets, standing open. They did not find it out of the ordinary, although we are never open at that time on a Sunday night. They also never came in to find me to see if we were alright, and just drove back to the station,” said Vermaak.

He added that at 9.20 pm, the robbers decided not to wait any longer, but came through to the cottage where they live.

“My wife and I were watching the Sunday night movie and were having coffee. I heard a noise, and was about to get up, when they came into the room. They pointed firearms at us and ordered us to sit down. They tied us up with packaging tape and demanded money.”

Acknowledging that it was “a stupid thing to do”, his wife Michelle said that on an impulse she had offered the robbers coffee. They replied, “This is a robbery ma’am,” and refused.

The robbers made off with items including a TV, cellphones, money, liquor and an Ipad.

After the robbers had fled, Vermaak called the police, who then came back to the pub.

On Monday, Vermaak managed to track his iPad to Umlazi, Durban with an app that allows the owner to track the location of the device.

He told the police that he had done so, but was told that police did not have the staff to go to Durban. They said they needed to contact the murder and robbery unit from Port Shepstone, who would have to come to Creighton first to sign for the docket before going to Umlazi. This presumably would take time.

On Tuesday, Vermaak was talking about the robbery and the lack of police response, when he was overheard by a police officer from Pietermaritzburg, who immediately made calls to get police in Durban to recover the iPad. His TV and iPad were recovered, but no arrests were made.

Police spokesperson Thulani Zwane confirmed that a case of business robbery is being investigated by Creighton police.

Zwane did not comment on the allegations made against Creighton police by Vermaak.

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