November 13 2008 at 07:13AM
A family attacked in an armed robbery on their smallholding in the early hours of Wednesday waited more than 13 hours before police responded to their calls for help.
It is not meant to take longer than 10 minutes for any police officer, regardless of where they are, to respond to a crime in progress, especially serious crimes such as armed robbery.
Johan Maritz and his family were asleep in their Knoppieslaagte home near Centurion, when they were attacked.
Despite calls for help from the family, the Monitor Net security company and a friend - a police officer who was called after police failed to respond to initial calls for assistance - help arrived only after 6pm.
The first call for help to the police's 10111 emergency centre was made by Monitor Net at 5.30am.
Friends describing the attack said Maritz woke up to his girlfriend Ursula Bekker's screams of agony.
Bekker had been awakened earlier by their dogs barking and had gone downstairs to find out what was disturbing them.
As she walked downstairs she saw a man opening a window. Grabbing a pool cue, Bekker hit his arm before she was overpowered by his two accomplices, who had forced open the front door.
Pushing her to the ground, one of the men stabbed Bekker in the back of the head.
Fighting back, she was eventually kicked and beaten to the ground, where the attackers tore off her nightdress. It is believed the men stopped their assault when Maritz came running downstairs.
As one of the robbers, armed with panga, chopped at Maritz's arm and hand, Bekker pushed her way past the attackers and ran to her daughter Angelique, 5, who was crying in her bed.
One of the attackers, who saw her flee, ran after her, hitting her as she lay on top of Angelique while trying to protect her.
Bekker said she pleaded with the man not to hurt them.
"I was crying. I asked him to leave Angelique alone and to take me. I pleaded with him not to rape or hurt us, but he just laughed," she said.
Bekker said that when one of the robbers called her attacker, the man left the room. "I did not know what was happening. I picked up Angelique, ran to the window and jumped."
Police spokesperson Director Sally de Beer said: "If the allegations are true, then it is absolutely shocking and must be investigated as a priority."
Superintendent Eugene Opperman said an investigation would be launched.
Maritz was in a serious condition in hospital.
This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on November 13, 2008