Friday, August 28, 2009

"I will not be made a prisoner"

But you are sir. You lock yourself away. In your car. In your house. When you go out, you look over your shoulder all the time. Every day and every night. Only the criminals have rights sir.

Why do people still believe there is a "system"?
He would have better luck getting pigs to fly than think the ICD or SAPS or the regime gives a crap about his predicament. The way back is not through these institutions. They don't work because they are manned by people who don't care. Now, demanding the Castle Doctrine is something that would work. If the cops won't nail the bastards, let the citizens do it. Saves on paperwork and that pesky police detective stuff.

***

Fisandhoek resident Dorus Sturm has been the victim of repeated crime, escalating in severity since 2004 at his farm Mount Nelson.

Now he is taking his complaints to the Independent Complaints Directorate of South Africa with an affidavit detailing a persistent lack of police procedure and follow-up that has resulted in 'secondary victimisation', possibly leaving him vulnerable to further crime from the same perpetrators.

"First it was sheep. I took over several sheep when I bought the farm in 2000, and the first one was stolen in 2004." Over the next few months, all his sheep were taken.

He reported the thefts to the Plett Police, but claims - despite assurances that they knew where illegal mutton was sold and would "very likely" be able to track down the thieves - he never heard from them again.

Next his store was broken into and a number of hardware items and tools, including all his chainsaws, were taken.

Again, the police were informed and came out to the farm, but yet again he did not hear back from them and no-one ever took prints.

Sturm says he made repeated attempts to contact the investigating officer in the case - to no avail, and with no response.

"Eventually I just gave up. Then, on Sunday September 3, 2006, I saw three men in balaclavas, one with a knife, at the door of my house.

"I pushed the alarm and the siren went off. They left. The police came, but said I could not make a case as I had not been attacked and nothing was stolen," he says.

Shortly after this incident, a member of the local community told Sturm that he knew who the three men were and that they had all had knives. He relayed this information to the police, but was again told that he could not make a case because they had left before doing anything.

Six months later, on March 3, 2007, Sturm was violently attacked in his home during another robbery.

"I was hit on the head, a jacket thrown over my head so that I could not see anything, and pushed to the ground. I was tied up with electrical cord, beaten and kicked."

After the robbers left, having found money, Sturm managed to get himself upright and get to the panic button, but he believes he was left to die as they had locked him, still bound and bleeding profusely from several wounds, in his office.

"I got out because one of the doors must have seemed locked to them, but in fact the door was stuck, and I knew how to get it open," he says.

Following this attack, he was again tipped off by members of the community as to the attackers' identities, and police investigations revealed that the men who had allegedly intruded on his property in September 2006 were the same men believed to be his attackers.

They were arrested, but it was at this point that Sturm says he felt "justified in making a complaint to the Colonel of the Plett Police Department" about the lack of prior follow-up and concern for the threat to his safety, in the light of previous reports to the police.

"I did not make any accusations. I just told him matter-of-factly what had happened previously, from the sheep to the intruders, and what the police had done and not done. An officer who was with him became angry at me and walked out of the room, and the Colonel followed without a word to me."

As per Sturm's affidavit, this brush-off of his concerns and "abusive reaction" was followed by a list of investigative and procedural oversights that eventually led to the release of the alleged perpetrators after their third trial in February 2008, in contravention of the South African Victims' Charter.

These range from the police not following up on witnesses, not calling all available witnesses for court proceedings, relying on the testimony of a 10-year-old child (who claimed to have been present at the attack), and not informing Sturm of the second and third trial dates so that he could be present and bear witness himself.

According to the affidavit, all of these factors led to the release of the attackers, despite the prosecution and Judges' conviction that the accused were in fact guilty - a fact shown in court transcripts.

"They were let go because the only witness called was a child, and the testimony of a child is not considered reliable evidence on its own."

Sturm says he only learned of the release of his accused when picking up workers in February 2009. "I looked in my rear view mirror, and there he was (one of the accused), sitting on the back of my bakkie, catching a lift.

"Since then there has been another burglary of my tool shed, and the police have said that they think two of the same men are involved, but that they cannot do anything because they cannot find the stolen goods."

Despite this, Sturm is not willing "to be made a prisoner" in is own home, and he will not leave. But he is also not prepared to simply leave things as they are and to live in fear - not only of further crime, but of lack of recourse - so is taking on the local police department, and one investigating officer in particular, through his complaint to the Independent Complaints Directorate of SA.

Sturm says he loves South Africa, and chose to live here after considering retirement in a number of other countries. "I chose SA for its beauty, its diversity of people and for its potential." He is particularly fond of the Garden Route, and is in an ongoing process of restoring indigenous flora and forest on his farm through the removal of alien vegetation. He employs eight full-time workers in these non-profit endeavours.

As someone who has invested whole-heartedly of himself and his resources, he feels acutely the injustice of the crimes and the secondary victimisation perpetrated against him. Yet, his genuine respect and love for his employees is evident in the way he speaks of them.

Sturm is adamant that despite what he has suffered over the years, he bears no ill will to any group of people and lays no blame at the feet of anyone besides those directly involved.

3 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Well, good Mr.Sturm might consider ill will as a definite option. That and a nice, slightly shortened shotgun with LLG or at least AAA ammo. By now even the most stubben liberal should realise that there might be a reoccouring problem and another visit from the bad boys might be emminent.

nikki said...

YoUr attitude is utterly contrary to the attitude of the complainent. Have your say - Everyone has that right, but don't use this man's complAInt to put forward violent and racist ideology.
TWO WRONGS DON'T MAKE A RIGHT - EVER.
Ps - you should credit the source of your posts, but in this case I am not sorry you didn't.
Nikki - the writer of the article

Vanilla Ice said...

@nikki. Where is a violent or racist ideology expounded? Define racism; I suggest you read the Oxford. Self-defence is not a violent ideology, by the way. I think the murder of 3,000 white commercial farmers, sometimes tortured repeatedly for hours, is violent and racist. What have you said about that? Organised any rallies or committed any civil disobedience lately in support of the farmers? Of course not, because you and your ilk are intellectual cowards. Reality is unpalatable so you deny it. Instead you busy your pathetic day writing drivel that nobody cares to believe anyway.