November 16 2009 at 07:10AM
By Graeme Hosken
Shoddy police work has allowed a robber - shot and wounded in a struggle with a Pretoria homeowner - to go free. The suspect, who is believed to have disappeared after charges against him were withdrawn last week, was shot in the groin when he and his three accomplices attacked the Pienaar family in their home in Edgehill Street, Queenswood.
The family's domestic worker, who was in an outside room at the time, gave those inside the house a warning when she spotted three of the intruders walking past her room. This gave them time to call for help.
First to arrive was the Pienaars' son Waldie, who lives close to his parents' home. He foiled the attack when he shot one of the robbers through a kitchen window, moments before the robber could attack his father.
The two became involved in a struggle
Pienaar's cousin and uncle, who also responded to the call for help, arrested one of the robbers as he fled through open veld.
While searching the man they found Waldie's parents' cellphones and jewellery belonging to his mother.
The two became involved in a struggle with the man when he pulled out a gun hidden inside his underpants and allegedly tried to shoot them.
During the struggle a shot was fired and the attacker was hit in the groin.
The family's relief that at least one of their attackers had been arrested turned to rage when they heard he had subsequently been released from hospital.
'He was let go because no arrest statement was taken at the time of his arrest'
The reason, claim police, is that vital statements used to link an arrested suspect to a crime scene, were not taken.
"When I heard that the man had been released I could not believe it. I was dumbfounded. When I phoned the investigating officer he was arrogant and did not seem to care.
"When I told him it was because of his pathetic work that the gunman was free he told me he did not care about my opinion," said Pienaar, adding that he had only been informed on Friday when he began asking questions after he heard rumours about the suspect's release.
Pienaar said: "They didn't even think to tell us, and they have yet to apologise.
"How can a policeman not do something so small as to make sure that a vital statement needed to link a suspect to a crime scene has been taken," he said.
He said that since the man's release the family had been uneasy as a group of unknown men had been seen parked outside his and his parents' home twice last week.
"These people came into our home the first time to kill us. Their intention was clear then, and it is even clearer now. They know who we are and where we live and they know that we can identify them," Pienaar said.
He claimed that the police work, especially by the investigating officer, was pathetic.
"When the police first started chasing after one of the suspects a lot of them stopped because he was shooting at them. Now, a vital statement linking a suspect to the crime scene has not been taken.
He claimed that despite repeated calls to the investigating officer to hand over their statements, he had not been available.
"The police at the time warned us to be careful about retaliation attacks, but now they have let one of these guys go.
"I am gravely concerned for my family's safety, but can't defend them because my gun has been taken away," said Pienaar.
"How am I expected to defend my family if the cops can't, and I don't have the means to?" he asked.
Police Sergeant Lynnette Erasmus confirmed that the suspect had been released.
"He was let go because no arrest statement was taken at the time of his arrest," she said.
She said an arrest statement was usually made by the first police members on the scene, and was used as part of the court proceedings to link the suspect to the crime.
"It describes what he was wearing, what happened at the crime scene, the arrest process and whether he was injured or not at the time of his arrest.
"We will arrest the suspect once the necessary statements have been taken again from the police on the scene," she said.
This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on November 16, 2009