Cop sleeps while robbers strike
Dries Liebenberg, Beeld
Durban - A police inspector manning a satellite station at a petrol station on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast was apparently asleep while a teacher and primary school children were robbed in the parking area over the weekend.
Japie Visser, a teacher at the Swartruggens Combined School near Rustenburg in the North-West, said on Monday they stopped to rest at an Ultra City along the N2 highway at Umgababa, south of Amanzimtoti, on Saturday night.
He and the school's under-13 rugby team were on their way to the Sportweni sport academy at Port Shepstone.
He was driving and when he became tired they decided to pitch their tent on the petrol station's lawn, said Visser on Monday. Some of the boys were kicking a ball around when the robbers struck.
Visser was woken at about 02:45 when a robber kicked him in the back, aimed a 9mm pistol at him and demanded money.
Meanwhile another robber was holding one of the boys at gunpoint while he rummaged through the boy's bag and took a cellphone.
The robbers eventually fled with five cellphones, cash, clothing and bank cards. According to Visser, it took "a while" for the policeman to come out of his office, which was locked.
"When he finally came out he looked very disorientated," said Visser.
But Visser was full of praise for the dog unit and a detective who showed up soon after being called. The search for the robbers, however, was unsuccessful.
A few years ago the N2 in the Umgababa area was notorious because robbers attacked motorists by throwing stones at vehicles, among other things. The attacks stopped when the police's highway patrol started focussing their attention on the area.
Police spokesperson Vincent Mdunge confirmed that robbery charges have been laid. He said they have not received a complaint about the police official being asleep while on duty at the satellite station.
"The satellite station is in operation 24 hours a day," said Mdunge, adding that the police will investigate if someone were to make a statement about the official.
Visser, who brought the team from Swartruggens to the academy for the first time this year, said he won't be making a statement because the police reacted quickly once he did get hold of them.
Next time they'll make a different plan when they need to rest.