19/09/2007 09:05 - (SA)
Riëtte Olivier , Die Burger
Port Elizabeth - A burglar left a pensioner to die, after tying him up with neckties and with a pot of boiling oil on the stove.
The pensioner, a Mr Marais, might have burnt to death or died of smoke inhalation had it not been for a tow-truck operator, said captain Frikkie Potgieter from the police air wing.
The worker phoned Potgieter at 00:45 on Sunday after arriving at the scene of an accident where a man in a red VW Golf had hit a tree. There was electronic equipment on the back seat. After the acciden,t the driver apparently simply walked away.
"The worker said the equipment seemed suspect, especially when the man just walked away," said Potgieter.
Potgieter drove to the scene and noticed the man walking away while being followed by the tow-truck.
"The man said he was on his way to call his brother and that the vehicle and equipment belonged to the brother."
Potgieter didn't believe him and eventually the man admitted that he had stolen the car and the equipment from a house in Ambrose Street in North End.
"I immediately asked him where the people of the house were, and he answered: 'I have done a great wrong.'"
Potgieter put the suspect into his vehicle and, following his directions, drove to the house.
He entered the house and saw the elderly man sitting where he had been tied to the couch. "His face was bleeding as a result of being kicked."
While Potgieter was cutting the man lose, he smelt something burning. In the kitchen he noticed the pot of boiling oil. "If I'd arrived 20 minutes later, the oil would have caught fire."
Marais afterwards said he never thought he would survive. "He said he was sitting there waiting to die," said Potgieter.
According to Marais, the burglar gained access to the house by forcing open the front door, which Potgieter had unlocked after the burglar had knocked.