File photo: Henk Kruger / Independent Media.

Cape Town - The Western Cape High Court on Monday found 22-year-old Adriaan Hendricks guilty of the murder of a 50-year-old police officer.

Warrant Officer Petrus Holtz was fatally stabbed on July 29, 2015. He was travelling on the infamous stretch of road between Somerset West and Khayelitsha, dubbed the N2 Hell Run. Holtz was attached to the Hawks' Commercial Crimes Unit and was on his way to the Bellville office early in the morning, when his car struck rocks placed on the road.

A common modus operandi of criminals, it forces drivers to stop their vehicles, leaving them vulnerable to attacks. In Holtz's case, two of his tyres were punctured. He immediately phoned for assistance, but in the ten minutes that it took for help to arrive, he was murdered. The court found that Hendricks had intentionally placed rocks in the road, and when Holtz's car pulled over, he pounced.

Judge Robert Henney said he had used brute force to drive a knife 4cm into Holtz's leg, severing an artery. Hendricks was convicted on one count of murder, two counts of malicious damage to property, one of attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances and one of robbery with aggravating circumstances. Holtz's Samsung cellphone and GPS were stolen in the attack.

Not the first attack of its kind

Less than two weeks before the attack, another motorist had fallen victim to the same modus operandi. Jacques Loots, on July 17, drove over rocks on the same stretch of road, puncturing one tyre. When he pulled over, Hendricks appeared, pulled out a knife and a struggle ensued. In that case, Loots managed to get into his car and drive away. His cellphone was also stolen.

Judge Henney said Loots was able to identify Hendricks in a photo ID, and he accepted this evidence. He said it was too much of a coincidence that the same modus operandi was used in both attacks, both victims were stabbed, and both had their cellphones stolen.

Henney rejected Hendricks's version that he had been with his grandmother during the Loots attack, describing it as a vague explanation. Hendricks claimed he had come upon Holtz in the second incident, after he was attacked, and had slipped in his blood before taking his cellphone and GPS - Judge Henney rejected this as well.

The court found it was highly unlikely that other people were responsible for Holtz's murder, and would have left behind his cellphone and GPS. Rather “everthing pointed to the fact that Hendricks was involved”.

Holtz was survived by his wife and two children, an adult son and a teenage daughter. His wife, Rene, and daughter, Michaela, were present in court but refused to talk to the media. A small group of police officers were also there to support them.

The accused, dressed in jeans and a hooded tracksuit top, appeared unemotional as he was convicted, and often glanced over at the victim's family.

African News Agency (ANA)