Crime victim threatens to sue cops

JOHN HARVEY

A former Harfield Village resident intends suing the Minister of Police for negligence, claiming he has been repeatedly brushed off by SAPS members despite being the victim of two crimes from which he narrowly escaped with his life.

Anthony McLaughlin has even spent his own time and money gathering evidence against the perpetrators believed to be responsible for the separate incidents in February 2013 and November 2014, but says police have “simply not been interested despite having everything presented to them on a silver platter”.

The allegations are being viewed in a serious light by police, with Wynberg Cluster spokesperson Captain Angie Latchman saying they would be investigated internally.

“The SAPS will not condone any misconduct on the part of its members and stands firm in respect of the SAPS Code Of Conduct. Mr McLaughlin is urged to come forward and lay a formal complaint regarding this matter,” she said.

The first incident, which was reported by the Tatler at the time, (“Fleeing thieves wreck a new car”, February 28, 2013) involved two men driving a white VW Jetta crashing into Mr McLaughlin’s brand-new Fiat Punto at 2nd Avenue, Harfield Village, on February 19. The men were attempting to make a quick getaway after stealing the vehicle in Lyndhurst Road. Despite the collision, which resulted in Mr McLaughlin’s car being a complete write-off, they were able to flee the scene.

In the second incident, on November 18, 2014, Mr McLaughlin and his two sons were set upon by nine boys, ranging in age from 14 to 20, from a high school in Stellenbosch. According to statements made to police as well as Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schafer, the school and Stellenbosch University, which are in the Tatler’s possession, two members of the group attempted to stab the family, but Mr McLaughlin and his sons fought back, eventually causing the boys to scatter.

During the scuffle, Mr McLaughlin managed to take the knife from one of the group of boys, a Grade 8 pupil who was arrested along with another Grade 8 and the 20-year-old leader of the group. The latter was arrested the next day after being found in possession of Mr McLaughlin’s cellphone. However, Mr McLaughlin has subsequently discovered that the 20-year-old was either released on bail and went on to commit two other crimes before being apprehended.

The man, identified as Chester September, is currently serving seven to ten years in prison for an armed robbery in which a student was stabbed in the head, but the fate of the other children arrested at the time remains unknown.

In correspondence addressed to the NPA in the Western Cape and SAPS CID Stellenbosch, Mr McLaughlin states: “We really feel as a family there is frustration and anger, and that our basic rights are trampled on and disregarded while we are always showing patience, respect and understanding.”

Mr McLaughlin said in both cases, he had decided to conduct his own investigations because of lack of interest on the part of the police.

“I have decided to bring this to the media’s attention because it is clear criminals are simply being allowed to escape justice, or in other cases are let out of jail to commit crimes again,” he said.

“What I find unbelievable is that I have gone out of my own way to gather evidence, but despite presenting this to them they ignore me again and again.”

Several months after the collision, Mr McLaughlin had on several occasions spotted the two men driving the white VW Jetta near Wynberg, and had taken photographs as evidence.

On one of these occasions he had even pointed the men out to two Wynberg officers on patrol, displaying the point out note he had been provided by Claremont CID, but claims he was again ignored.

A point out note is a document issued by police when a crime is reported. If the complainant spots the suspects and there are cops nearby, the note can be shown to the officers as a reference to the reported case.

“The incredible thing is that a few months after the hit-and-run in 2013, an article appeared in the Tatler (“Cops looking for robbers”, August 15, 2013) in which police requested assistance in finding two men sought in connection with an armed robbery in Claremont on June 26 of that year. Comparing my photographs, the resemblance is uncanny.”

The Tatler has these photographs in its possession, and the similarity between the men and the identikits provided by police is striking.

Mr McLaughlin has also followed the men to an address in Plumstead which he described as a “hive of activity”, with cars coming and going all the time. “I even took the police there, but there was never any follow-up.”

The case was also later withdrawn – a move that Mr McLaughlin said he failed to understand.

“I’ve never received any answers on this matter, and I am baffled as to why the same is happening in the Stellenbosch attack.”

* By the time this edition went to print, Western Cape provincial police had not responded to queries submitted to them on Monday March 21.