May 06 2009 at 07:18AM
'I was ready to die, but not for the torture. Not for that. Not for what they did to me." These were the chilling words of Werner Coetzer who described his three-hour ordeal at the hands of an armed robber who, dressed in police uniform, tortured him with a burning iron while demanding money, jewellery and guns.
Coetzer was at his Moreleta Park home with his colleague, Jonathan White and friend, Cherise Venter, during the early hours of on Tuesday morning when a five-man gang of robbers forced their way into the house and attacked, beat and kicked them repeatedly.
Tying them up with electric cables, one of the men ransacked their home and demanded guns, money and jewellery while the other stood over them at gunpoint. The remaining suspects lay outside waiting for police.
The robbers became enraged when they were only able to find a few thousand rand hidden in small gun safe.
'I made peace and I was ready, but I was not ready for what they did to me'
Turning his attention to Coetzer, the bogus policeman, threatened to kill him if he did not give them more money, jewellery and guns.
Despite Coetzer's pleas for mercy and that he did not have any guns the robber refused to believe him and turned on him.
The man grabbed Coetzer and stuffed a sock into his mouth before he pulled his T-shirt over his head and exposed his naked back.
Then, the torturer sat on top of him and pushed a hot iron into his right arm and lower back repeatedly.
Despite the 15-minute attack Coetzer continued to insist that he did not have any guns.
His continued denial infuriated his torturer further and he grabbed White and Venter and assaulted them.
Coetzer said when he was forced to the ground and the gun was pushed against his head he was ready to die. "I made peace and I was ready, but I was not ready for what they did to me," he said.
White said that when he first saw the man in police uniform he thought it was a mistake and the police had raided the wrong house.
"But, when they ordered us to lie on the ground and they began to kick and beat us I knew these were not police."
As he watched the man repeatedly burn Coetzer, White said he thought he was going to die.
"When I saw what was happening I thought this was it. I thought we were dead."
When the torturer did not get what he wanted from Coetzer, he turned on White and Venter.
The "policeman" grabbed Venter and dragged her to a bathroom where he threatened to cut her genitals off with a kitchen knife before he hog-tied her and threw a blanket over her.
White, terrified, was taken to his bedroom where he was hog-tied and then kicked and beaten.
Expecting to be shot, he lay in wait listening to the men ransacking the house.
"I never thought we would survive. I never thought I would live through this," he said.
The three were able to break free when Venter managed to untie herself after the robbers had left.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Lynette Erasmus confirmed that an armed robbery was being investigated.
Erasmus said anyone who was suspicious of a policeman's credentials had to immediately notify the nearest police station.
"Every police official has an appointment certificate which contains their picture, rank, force number and is signed by the national police commissioner, which they have to carry at all times regardless of whether they are on or off-duty.
"As a member of the public you have the right to demand to see a policeman's appointment certificate if you are approached by someone claiming to be a policeman," she said.
Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of the suspects can contact Crime Stop on 08600-10111.
This article was originally published on page 3 of Pretoria News on May 06, 2009