Friday, 11 June 2010

Cops storm wrong house

Marius Claassen recounts how a group of policemen stormed his house in the middle of the night. (Amanda Roestoff, Beeld)

2010-06-09 09:17
Amanda Roestoff, Beeld

Johannesburg - About ten men in police uniforms carrying R5 assault rifles and service weapons broke open a sliding door at a family home in Roodepoort shortly after midnight on Tuesday, insisting on searching the premises.

The home owner, Marius Claassen, 41, insisted on seeing a warrant. "Then they only said: 'Oooeeeee… but it's the wrong house' and drove off."t

Claassen, manager of the Ciao Baby Cucina, a restaurant in the Clearwater shopping centre, said a noise outside his house in Florida woke him shortly after midnight.

A black Volkswagen microbus and a sedan car with about ten police officers rushed at Claassen's property on the corner of West Lane and The Highway. "They hammered on the door and insisted that I opened up."

Broke lock

While Claassen looked for the key, the men presumably became impatient and "perhaps thought something was being hidden". The next moment they broke the lock on the sliding door and pulled the door open.

Claassen said the men wanted to know why he took so long to open the door.

"I explained that they knew the circumstances under which we lived in the country… Wouldn't a reasonable man also be cautious about opening up?

"A big, fat man in civilian clothes", apparently a commanding officer of an intelligence unit, then said they were busy "looking for criminals" and had been given Claassen's address.

Claassen said they wouldn't reveal which police station they worked at, and would not give their rank or names.

One or two police IDs were shown to him but he couldn't see in the dark if they were authentic.

"They even wanted to know if someone was at home during the day. What business is that of theirs?"

"First the 'officer' joked about how I shouldn't worry that they would look at my wife's 'golo' (Zulu for a woman's private parts)."

Claassen's wife Michelle, 39, called the police's 10111 emergency number from the bedroom.

Their children, Sabrina, 12, and Joshua, 7, were in their rooms.

"Police have still not arrived," said Claassen.

When the men insisted on searching the house, Claassen insisted on seeing a warrant. That is when they apparently suddenly realised they were at the wrong house.

Claassen said none of their cars had number plates.

Trauma counselling

His daughter had to receive trauma counselling on Tuesday due to the incident.

Florida police station spokesperson Captain Lydia Mtila-Dikolomela confirmed on Tuesday that an emergency call had been received from Claassen's wife after midnight.

"According to notes, the charge was referred to the Florida police station at about 00:08 from 10111. A police official reacted to it at 00:09."

The official who had according to police reacted to the charge by going to the house could not be found by late on Tuesday.

Florida police indicated that other units sometimes worked in their policing area.

- Beeld


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