Terror at dawn in Toti attack

2008-08-01 00:00

AN Amanzimtoti street that has been the scene of two previous violent house robberies was hit again this week when a gunman held a family hostage and robbed them — before raping one of the victims he had promised not to harm.

Weekend Witness cannot reveal the name of the street as it may identify the victim of the rape. The horror attack began at 6.30 am when a woman and her son were leaving to buy coffee for breakfast.

They were stopped by an armed man who forced them back into their home. Once inside, the robber made the son tie up his mother, his sister, his father and the family’s domestic worker. The robber then tied up the son.

The family offered no resistance and the gunman promised he would not harm them.

However, on discovering that the family did not have a safe, the robber dragged the woman to a couch and raped her, while her family were bound and helpless. The robber then fled in the family car. The car was recovered hours later abandoned without petrol.

The provincial house robbery task team was called to the scene — an area they had been to several times before.

In April last year, six KwaMakhuta men were arrested for a violent robbery in a quiet Amanzimtoti cul-de-sac. Police investigations tied the alleged ringleader of the gang to a second armed house robbery committed earlier in the year on exactly the same road.

Detective Inspector Keith Caswell told Weekend Witness that on hearing the street had been the scene of a third robbery, he immediately check -ed court re-cords to establish whe-ther any of the men arrest-ed for the previous robberies had been released. Records showed that a man (27) charged with the two previous armed robberies was freed on the Wednesday before the robbery.

Charges had been provisionally withdrawn after the state was not able to bring fingerprint exhibits to court in time.

Caswell said that statements collected from the domestic worker made him suspect the robber who committed the most recent attack came from the KwaMakhuta area, where the released suspect lives.

“When the robber spoke to the maid, he asked her where she lived. When the maid told him she lived in KwaMakhuta, the robber appeared to panic and exclaimed ‘Oh shit’. This made me suspect he was scared the maid might recognise him.

“Members of my unit and I then made extensive inquiries … [and] established that a taxi driver in the area was in possession of an item possibly taken during the robbery and, late on Monday night, members of my unit and I raided the home of this man.

“This man was arrested in the early hours of the morning and found to be in possession of a cellphone taken in the robbery.

“The man claimed that he had been given several items to sell by two men who he does not know. He led us to a home where these men allegedly lived, but on making inquiries there we established we had been lied to.”

The suspect was arrested and informed that police had DNA evidence linking him to the crime. The suspect confessed to police, however, on Thursday he recanted his confession and is now awaiting trial. He has not pleaded before a court and cannot be named.

Caswell said that at this stage the police are not looking for other suspects. The man released on Wednesday does not appear to have been involved in the latest robbery.

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