June 01 2007 at 05:20AM
By Graeme Hosken and Barry Bateman
An elderly scientist has become the latest victim of a gang of robbers targeting homes in Pretoria east.
Bill van der Riet was found murdered in his home in Die Wilgers by a Community Policing Forum (CPF) member after the gardener raised the alarm when he couldn't gain access to the property.
Van der Riet's murder comes days after Ben Malan, son of SAPS logistics director Jacques Malan, was murdered, and days after the attempted murder of Lynnwood Ridge residents Pieter Schutte and Jacobus Hoffman.
'We are extremely angry about this'
Dianne Jooste, Garsfontein Sector 1 CPF chairperson, said she had found Van der Riet's body.
While searching the house they found Van der Riet lying in the lounge, she said. "We are extremely angry about this. Things like this should not be happening," she said.
Van der Riet's friend of 30 years Owen Frisby said the murder came as terrible shock. "This is an outrage and disgrace. Bill has been robbed several times over the years.
"He was found beaten and strangled. Police say there have been six similar incidents in the past week."
Frisby said Van der Riet was a quiet man who lived alone. "His only family is in Cape Town."
He said his friend retired about 15 years ago and was a top microbiologist for the CSIR.
"He was an amateur astronomer; and had a butterfly named after him. He was a fascinatingly person, a walking encyclopedia," he said.
Last week a family narrowly escaped injury when they were attacked by two men in their Susan Street home, Jooste said.
"The only reason they were not hurt was that the family's daughter managed to push the panic button.
"Police on patrol in the area, responded within minutes arresting the would-be house robbers."
Ingemar Kleinpeter, involved in organising community patrols in Lynnwood Ridge, said a gang of house robbers were terrorising residents in the area.
The gang is believed to have been responsible for the murder of Malan who was shot dead in his Cedar Street home last week, he said.
"The gang is also believed to be responsible for the attempted murder of Pieter Schutte who was shot in an attack on his Fremontia Street home and for the attempted murder of Jacobus Hoffman who escaped death gunmen opened fire on him in his home in the same street.
"In the attack on Hoffman his son was struck in the leg by shrapnel from the ricocheting bullet," he said.
Kleinpeter said police had told him that one of the gang members, said to be involved in the recent spate of attacks, was wanted for 30 house robberies in the Pretoria east area.
Garsfontein CPF chairperson Nic Pascoe, under whose area Sector 1 falls, said there had been a substantial increase in house robberies in the area. "Police have been excellent in responding to these crimes and have caught close to 10 house robbers in the past month," he said.
Sector 1's boundary runs between the N4 highway and the N1 and Simon Vermooten and Lynnwood roads.
Police confirmed Van der Riet's murder. No arrests have been made.
This article was originally published on page 2 of Pretoria News on June 01, 2007