October 09 2009 at 08:38AM
By Graeme Hosken
"I remember everything. I remember their eyes and their hatred." These were the words of a young Pretoria woman who was throttled, kicked, beaten, handcuffed and pepper-sprayed by a Tshwane metro policeman and his three-man house robbery gang.
The gang, according to police sources, is believed to have been involved in a number of house and business robberies.
Elaine Cahill, 25, was at home on her parents' Raslouw smallholding outside Centurion yesterday when she was attacked.
Cahill was overpowered as she showed the men around the property
The attack began when two of the gang members conned their way on to the property by pretending to be security guards.
The gunmen also turned on the family's domestic worker, Idah Mashilo, as she ran to help Cahill.
Cahill was overpowered as she showed the men around the property which the family use to run their children's party businesses.
Forcing Mashilo back into the house at gunpoint, two of the robbers made her point out where the family kept their guns and other valuables.
The men, who overpowered Cahill by pepper-spraying her face, forced her into a building used for children's parties before they beat her to the ground.
He declined to say if the man had been suspended from the metro police
Once on the floor the men handcuffed her before they took their shoelaces and a rope and tried to strangle her.
Unable to kill her, the men then took a jacket and used its sleeves to throttle her.
Thinking Cahill was dead when she passed out, they left her and searched for valuables.
Realising she had regained consciousness, the men turned on her again, one of them tightening the jacket sleeves while the other repeatedly jumped on her throat.
Feigning death, Cahill waited for the men to join their accomplices in the main house before she slipped one of her hands out of the handcuffs, untied her feet and ran to a neighbour for help.
Police from the Gauteng Rapid Response Unit, on patrol in the area, were alerted to the attack and raced to the house. They arrested two of the suspects as they fled through a field. They showed the police where they had thrown away Cahill's father's gun which they had stolen in the robbery.
The police were then led to a Pretoria West scrapyard where the 30-year-old off-duty Tshwane metro policeman was pointed out by his accomplices.
The police were led to his Sunnyside home where officers seized the policeman's 9mm service pistol, which they believe he hid soon after committing the robbery.
Cahill, recalling her ordeal, said she had been terrified.
"I remember everything. I remember their eyes and their hatred," she said, describing how she had asked God to help her survive.
Cahill said when she saw the first two men she immediately became suspicious.
"I did not trust them, but because they were dressed like security guards and wanted to book our venue I thought they were okay.
"When I was attacked I did not know what was happening. It happened so quickly. They pepper- sprayed me before they strangled me with their hands, then handcuffed me and dragged me to the outbuilding
"As I tried to fight them they continued to hit and kick me and tied my feet with my belt."
When they tied ropes around her neck, she said, "I thought this was it. I thought I was going to die."
When she struggled after regaining consciousness, the men came back. "I tried to scream, but I couldn't. My mouth was bleeding and I couldn't breathe. Every time I tried, one of the men would jump on my neck. I didn't know what to do. I was so scared I would never see my family again," she said, then describing how she had feigned death.
Console Tleane, Tshwane metro police spokesman, said the arrested officer was a member of the department's bylaws enforcement section.
"We are investigating information that the policeman, who supplied his accomplices with Coin Security uniforms, has been involved in other (crimes)," he said.
He declined to say if the man had been suspended from the metro police, saying the process to do so formed part of the department's internal inquiries.
Police spokeswperson Captain Tessa Jansen said two guns had been seized.
She said the men had been charged with house robbery and attempted murder.
This article was originally published on page 3 of Pretoria News on October 09, 2009