Police criticised for slow response to brutal attack

Police in Elandslaagte, KwaZulu-Natal, have been criticised for their slow response to a call for help from a 74-year-old woman on Houtkop Farm on 15 February.

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She phoned the SAPS when she felt threatened by an unknown man circling her home. He subsequently broke into the house and sexually assaulted her, before leaving with her cellphone, R150 and keys.

TAU SA’s safety committee chairperson Henry Geldenhuys said the farm was only 5km away from the police station. “The attack could have been prevented had police responded swiftly to the callout. Poor response times leaves the rural landowners desperate and in dismay.”

The suspect was identified by the local farm worker community and police arrested him the following day. The woman received assistance when her husband returned home. A pair of TAU SA trauma counsellors were also sent to her aid.

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Elandslaagte station constable Zamendo Cele, who was not working on 15 February, offered a possible explanation for the slow response: “We have only one van and have long distances to travel between callouts. That might have been the reason.”

In another incident, an elderly couple from a farm in Newcastle was attacked on 16 February, according to Colonel Israel Sangweni, based in Utrecht. He added that no attacks on farmers had been reported to the Utrecht police in four years.

According to Koos Marais, head of Kwanalu’s security desk, 10 farm murders and 47 attacks had taken place around 32 towns in KZN in 2013.