Fake cops rob Howick home

2012-12-21 00:00

A HOWICK couple endured a 90-minute ordeal at their home on Wednesday night when they were held up, tortured and robbed by men impersonating police officers in full uniform.

The men, one wearing a bullet-proof vest with “police” written on the front, burst in through an unlocked kitchen door.

They forced the couple to lie down, tied them up, threatened them with firearms and assaulted them.

They ransacked every room in the house and stole a television set, two laptops, a desktop computer, bank cards, two firearms, jewellery, cash and other household items.

Then they loaded the stolen goods into one of the family vehicles and drove off.

The husband, who would only identify himself as Johan, said he and his wife were watching television when the three men burst in through the kitchen.

“They were in full police uniform. They pretended they were chasing after someone, but once inside they forced us to lie down.

“For an hour-and-half they made us lie on the floor and they assaulted us every time we gave a wrong answer and threatened us with firearms.”

The ordeal lasted from 8 pm to 9.30.

“It was a traumatic experience. The whole time I was praying that we would survive.

“It was painful. I was down and my wife was lying next to me and there were these people in the house walking around and hitting [us].”

Johan said the situation made it difficult to trust the police.

There have been several cases in the past few months of criminals committing crimes while in police uniform. In Woodlands recently, five men impersonated police officers and robbed a business. Alert community members ensured the men were arrested. In other recent incidents, an 18-year-old was caught in a soldier’s uniform and two people were arrested in Pietermaritzburg for impersonating Road Traffic Inspectorate officials.

Police spokesperson Vincent Mdunge said several cases had been reported of criminals impersonating police officers, but no real police officer had ever been linked to any of the crimes.

He said it was not clear how criminals were accessing police uniforms.

“The police regulations state clearly that if police officers apply for a new uniform, they submit the old uniform before a new one is issued. Failure to present the old uniform can lead to disciplinary action being taken against the officer.”

Mdunge said: “Another challenge we have is that there are security companies who have uniforms similar in colour to those of the police.

“When a layman on the street sees that, he cannot tell the difference and thinks that it’s the police.”

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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