Cops run out of fuel in hot pursuit

2012-03-23 11:09

Durban - Police officers who tried to catch a suspect after an attack on a smallholding outside Empangeni had to turn around in the heat of the chase to put petrol into their patrol van.

This happened after a robber allegedly attacked Carel Bester, 74, on his veranda at the Eindhoek sugar smallholdings on Tuesday morning.

Bester said the man attacked him with a hammer and a screwdriver without any warning or even saying a word.

This was the third time in less than a week that criminals have targeted the smallholding.


His son-in-law Heindrich Wait said on Thursday he suspected the attacker had fully intended to murder Bester.

Instead the man fled with a brand new petrol-driven brush cutter when his mother-in-law, Bettie Bester, 72, locked herself into the house and pressed the alarm button.

After Wait took Bester to a hospital, he received a call that the police were at the smallholding to investigate the incident.

While he stood talking to the police officers outside, he noticed a man over the river who was watching them.

When he looked at the man with a pair of binoculars, he saw that he was holding a brush cutter.

Wait and the police officers climbed into the patrol van to drive to where the suspect had been seen.

The smallholding is about 13km outside Empangeni, but they had to drive about 35km to get to the place where Wait saw the suspect.

On their way the patrol van’s fuel light came on, showing the tank was nearly empty.

They had to turn around and the police borrowed five litres of fuel from Wait to get to Empangeni.


Wait said he was disappointed that the suspect had escaped because the driver of the police van had not ensured that the vehicle had enough fuel.

“Years ago when I worked for the department of correctional services the rule was that petrol had to be put in when the tank was half full,” he said.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge said members were encouraged to be prepared for any eventuality, but he added that the officers could not be accused of having failed in their duty in this case.

Mdunge said the officers deserved praise for reacting quickly to the robbery complaint.

“If they first added fuel they would have missed the suspect anyway,” he said.

The Empangeni Residents’ Community Policing Forum, which monitors the CBD and surrounding areas, has a standing invitation to all residents and business owners “who are passionate about reducing crime levels in their town to attend the CPF meetings”.

  • Omrisho - 2012-03-23 11:16

    yoh yoh... could we possibly look any more incompetent and a joke of a country to the rest of the world, sheez i hope not, this is just taking things to a whole new level, c'mon guys, what's the matter with you??

      Omrisho - 2012-03-23 11:31

      just maybe, if government gave our police force the necessary support, training and resources, this would not have happened, just maybe??

      Tgif - 2012-03-23 13:41

      I am even more surprised by the fact that the Police vehicle was available for official duty not delivering the skewareash and her groceries to her house.Hauw wena Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo !!! sometimes you are stupad !!!!!!

      Eric - 2012-03-23 14:31

      This is what you get when the top brass are all ex terrorists (MK) instead of seasoned policemen!

  • Marion - 2012-03-23 11:19

    If the vehicles were filled up every time they returned to the station or at very specific intervals then this would not have happened. Yes, they did react quickly but in the end that reaction time was worth a whole fat ZERO Mdunge!!

      DuToitCoetzee - 2012-03-23 12:15

      No, not true. Being at the crime scene prevented a follow up attack, BUT not planning a shift(empty van) is bad!!!!! Their senior officer should also be blamed because he should have controls and systems, through checklists, in place. That should be procedure.

      Marion - 2012-03-23 12:41

      In terms of a follow-up attack it was a success, yes.

      infijar.ken - 2012-03-23 16:46

      Marion, I think they should outsource their cars to Avis. At least they wouldn't let a car out of the yard below half full. I remember when I was in the Army, I would have been on extras for ages for letting the fuel run out (let alone what would have been the punishment in the bar afterwards). Do they not have a first parade check, or a stop parade check, come to that? As for the Lt. Col. excuse, I was dumbstruck. Just be glad we turned up, wtf! Heads should role, starting with his. How can anybody have confidence in the Police Force if this is the attitude of the Lt. Col.

  • russell.nell - 2012-03-23 11:25

    and the world reads this.......

  • Gcwabe.KaMavovo - 2012-03-23 11:28

    You couldn't make this up. Our police force is a total farce. Nathi Mthethwa should resign.

  • Gofuq - 2012-03-23 11:28

    amazing how they always have petrol to get to the engen garage,for free coffee.

      Preggy - 2012-03-23 11:53

      And to do the monthly shopping, family outings, school transport, etc, etc.!!!

      Jacqui - 2012-03-23 13:19

      Or the mall for some shopping.

      Martin Myburgh - 2012-03-23 13:27

      Engen owners are smart, they ensure a police presence at their shops at all times... Lol

      Saleé - 2012-03-29 18:05

      My pet hate is when I see a girlfriend of sorts in a cop car. These guys wouldn't even drive you home if you are stuck on the road with a broken-down car. Fair enough - this is not what they are there for. But to drive around with girls?! Not acceptable...

  • eben.ferreira1 - 2012-03-23 11:29

    Ha ha Haaa! I suppose it can happen to anybody but it is not supposed to happen to the Cops

  • Liam - 2012-03-23 11:37

    Surely part of their duties is to make sure that the vehicles have enough fuel. Thus failing in their duties.

      Martin Myburgh - 2012-03-23 13:25

      Jip, with every shift change the drivers must fill up their vehicles , unless they did fill up and during patrols used all the fuel which also happens. Still have to fill up , though....

  • swavka - 2012-03-23 11:39

    If this wasn't so sad, it would be funny. Keystone cops SA style.

  • Ricky Naidoo - 2012-03-23 11:47

    Eish...only in SA

  • 237christo - 2012-03-23 11:49

    All together: 1-Put arms on desk. 2-Bend elbows. 3-Open hands and put face in palms. 4-Shake head slightly and SIGH.

      Peter-Peter - 2012-03-23 12:02

      The sad thing is that this action you said, can be applied to 99% of other government services should give it a name and copyright it, coz it will become a very popular activity

  • logical007 - 2012-03-23 12:11

    Sabc should get the rights to producing a tv series of SA's police "TOP" Moments... It would be an award winning comedy series -WORLD WIDE!

  • DuToitCoetzee - 2012-03-23 12:17

    Having a 5l can of stand-by fuel in hand at home seams be the answer.LOL!

  • Jacques - 2012-03-23 12:23

    Typical South African: celebrating mediocrity. "The officers deserve praise". Of all things to say. Zero confidence in our police farce erh force.

  • wendy.bertuolo - 2012-03-23 12:24

    "Mdunge said the officers deserved praise for reacting quickly to the robbery complaint." Aren't the police supposed to react quickly to robbery complaints?

      Jacqui - 2012-03-23 13:20

      Wendy, only when they have petrol.

  • qdelpeche - 2012-03-23 12:25

    "...but he added that the officers could not be accused of having failed in their duty in this case." <-- So what if this tools definition of failing in their duty.

  • Rob - 2012-03-23 12:27

    The Keystone cops are back again!

  • neil.purves - 2012-03-23 12:31

    Mdunge, what happened to standard operating procedures how can you make this sort of statement on a public forum

  • Matthew - 2012-03-23 12:42

    Absolute HOGWASH!!! typical excuse from the typically slack efforts of the Police we all have come to know.Nonsense.absolute nonsense Your supposed to be prepared for this,you're suppose to be on the scene as it happens,you're supposed to AT LEAST try catch him or look for around. The level of effort and professionalism of the police is a down right disgust and insult to the country

      Martin Myburgh - 2012-03-23 13:20

      Well... The police don't fall from the sky, they come from communities in SA and thus the community deserve the police they have... Very sad

  • William - 2012-03-23 12:45

    Sounds like a Leon Schuster movie.

  • Jonathan - 2012-03-23 12:46

    This is now the SAPS that we need to trust and that would leave no stone un touched if you take the law into your own hands. The officers deserved praise..... for what. They achieved absolutely nothing. THEY FAILED. To the smallholding owners. Arm yourself and be alert yuou are been targeted now. Next time shoot the sh&*t out of any one on your land that is there uninvited and dump the bodies in the Nseleni River for the crocodiles. The SAPS are too useles to help you.

      Jacqui - 2012-03-23 13:23

      Jonathan, stop telling people to shoot. This is not Hollywood. The part about the crocodiles make me wonder about your sanity.

      Willem - 2012-03-23 14:20

      Haha Jacqui....I guess you are also one of those cops that are ALWAYS late!!

      Jonathan - 2012-03-23 20:19

      Jacqui, before you judge. Yes you are correct, this is not Hollywood - this is crime ridden South Africa. I am on the recieving end of 21 break-iins, 3 vechiles stolen and 3 armed robbries in 9 years with not a single arrest. I have lost on avarage R40,000-00 per month to crime in the last year before I closed my business down and putting 8 people out of employment. My business has been ruined and I lost everything I worked for 37 years my life due to crime. You and the useless SAPS should take note. I have a 2m wall plus electrical fence, security system and an electric gate around my property. No person has any business coming uninvited onto my property. I will shoot any person that comes uninvited on to my property and feed their boddies to the crocodiles. Fot the record, I am not insame - just gatvol. I had enough. I will from now on protect what is mine and dear to me at any cost.

  • Mncedisi - 2012-03-23 12:47

    How can you drive to an incident with an empty van? This man was not serious about his job despite the fact that it was an emergency

  • lasherza - 2012-03-23 12:48

    Lol!!!! Like domestic abuse this probably happens a lot more than whats reported..

  • Frans Van der Poll - 2012-03-23 12:49

    This is not funny! It's absolutely, totally hilarious. Sorry for the oomie who got robbed.

      Jonathan - 2012-03-24 07:10

      I would like to see you laugh when you are on the receiving end of a farm attack. You are an a@#$%hole.

  • Trevor - 2012-03-23 12:59


  • Aidan Berry - 2012-03-23 13:03

    Eish!! My friend and I are crying with laughter at this article, cause I had to transport some cops in my vehicle to chase some suspects once, because they had failed to check their petrol gauge as well and towed them to a petrol station afterwards.

  • Jan - 2012-03-23 13:10

    Tiepies! So ons derduisende rande belasting word inelkgeval net gemors op luukse voertuie. Ek belowe jou die "blue-light-brigades" haardloop NOOIT uit brandstof uit nie!!

  • marnalouw - 2012-03-23 13:15

    Freaking hell....only in South Africa!

  • Jacqui - 2012-03-23 13:17

    Next they won't be able to find the car keyes. But at least they tried.

      anton.coetzee.37 - 2012-06-27 18:16

      they will use a screwdriver!

  • Mike - 2012-03-23 13:24

    Stomach in chest out.... maybe the police should get driven by taxis, that way they will be at a scene faster and will always have petrol

  • Don.Tandy - 2012-03-23 13:34

    About par for the course and what we have come to expect from our 'clown cops'. What a farce they have become.

  • Steven - 2012-03-23 13:43

    They prowl the empty streets at night,on foot waiting for someone to pick them up,because they have run out of petrol.These are the men of the SAP!!!

  • Bobo - 2012-03-23 13:47

    I believe there is still standing orders in the SAPS to that effect...

  • Zandi - 2012-03-23 13:49

    BANANA REPUBLIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ben - 2012-03-23 13:52


  • btosuffer - 2012-03-23 13:58

    this police officers must be charged,how cn u ran out petrol while having petrol card?

  • flysouth - 2012-03-23 14:17

    "...the rule was that petrol had to be put in when the tank was half full" There's no rules now under the ANC of course!

  • verna.vwyk - 2012-03-23 14:53

    Could have happened to anyone... Hope the Besters are ok!!

      Jonathan - 2012-03-24 07:13

      No!No!No! It should never happend to the police. If you have a disciplined police force (not farce) this should never happen.

  • pal.mabelane - 2012-03-23 15:51

    Im' crying and laughing at the same it's not funny.

  • jeanpierre.dumont - 2012-03-23 15:54

    Hey come on - this could happen to anybody.

  • Michael - 2012-03-23 16:01

    I'm overjoyed that this didn't turn into yet another farm murder statistic. Something else though, it says the ahole who attacked Mr Bester did so with a hammer and a screwdriver.....what was he trying to do, renovate the man??? Oh, it's just come to me, must have been a Malema wannabee knoblet bunking woodwork.

  • Mbongeni - 2012-03-23 16:28

    imagine the fire brigade realising they forgot the fire hose when they get to a fire!! these guys need to be prepared and not be cuaght with their pants down....

  • brad.schafer3 - 2012-03-23 16:32

    sounds like the incident i saw on main road bryanston on monday. police car on the center island wrapped around the lamp pole.

      anton.coetzee.37 - 2012-06-27 18:20

      had too much petrol enough for racing!

  • phathuchicos - 2012-03-23 18:17

    lol...that's a week's moemish...i'm sure even the criminals couldn't believe if whether this was their lucky day or just a new strategy.

  • braamc - 2012-03-23 18:31

    As expected from this very fine police force

  • thys.bester - 2012-03-23 18:44

    Just for your information Guys, my Dad was still on crutches following an operation on his right ankle about 2 months ago. He hit the guy attacking him repeatedly with his crutches, giving my mom the chance to get into the house, lock the Trelidor and activate the alarm system. The guy stopped attacking my dad, and then tried to break the Trelidor out of the frame of the door, and that diversion surely saved my dad's life. The perpetrator then realized that his time has run out, and there was too much noise. In the attack the perpetrator broke one of my dad's ribs with the hammer, and with the stabbing he severed an artery in my dad's left chest, and also severed a nerve. According to my mother the screwdriver missed the heart with a couple of millimeters.

      wilana.olivier - 2012-03-23 19:05

      Thanks for the update Thys. Hope your Dad and Mom are doing well. Please send hugs, I don't know them, but such courage! Blessings to you and the family :-)

      thys.bester - 2012-03-23 21:36

      @Oom Kriel... as jy die artikel gelees het, sou jy gelees het dan die skuldige OORKANT die rivier van die kleinhoewe was, en nie in die dorp nie...en as jy KZN ken my oompie, dan sou jy geweet het dat dit onherbergsame wereld daardie is...Jy sou ook geweet het dat jy maklik 35 km moet ry om jouself 2km te verplaas...Maar jy's baie vinnig om comments soos joune te wat jy eintlik doen my oompie is om jou onkunde te wys...well done ;)

  • Trevor - 2012-03-23 18:54

    Durban....did they stop for a "bunny chow" first....then forgot to fill up????

  • Brad.Kopping - 2012-03-23 20:22

    I'm wondering if cops are excempte from the e-tolling? you know how often they are on patrol on those highways? o__O

  • Stef - 2012-03-23 20:24

    Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge, you are as incompetent as your fellow gravy train riders that you are endeavoring to defend. It is a SHAME to the SAPS that you were promoted to you current high rank despite your obvious inability to control / discipline active members that failed to refuel this vehicle after their last sortie. All of you are a disgrace to all that ever wore a uniform in the name of keeping the peace and protect others!

  • RaveWolf1 - 2012-03-23 20:25

    ROFLMFAO!!!!! 1) Now I know why they never pitch within... oh wait, 99.9% of the time they do exactly that!!... Never pitch!! BECAUSE they're filling up first!!! 2) Why should they be Praised??? IT'S THEIR JOB... I don't get praised every day I pitch up for work!!! My Salary is the only praise I get! 3) If they "Filled up first" the suspect would have still been there watching the house before the pursuit!!! Hello!! 4) I could be corrected on this one... But doesn't your average vehicle have about 40Km in Reserve??? If so then i'm sure they would have caught him before they ran dry. If he can outrun a van for more than 40Km, Then he deserves to get away because that is unbeatable talent. Welcome to the "Rainbow Nation" anyone for a "trip"!?

  • Terry - 2012-03-23 20:26

    How about this?