Johannesburg - When Peter Robertson was just seven years old, his soccer ball landed in his neighbour’s yard while he was playing at his Brackendowns home in Alberton. But Dave Ridgeway became so livid, he slashed the child’s ball into pieces with a knife.
“It’s alright that you shredded my ball. I forgive you. Jesus loves you,” the young Peter wrote in a letter to Ridgeway a few days later.
Twelve years later the same neighbour waited for him in the dark and pounced on him and his two friends. Ridgeway shot Robertson in the head, just two days before his 20th birthday and wounded two of his friends – for playing his music too loudly in his house and car.
This week Robertson’s parents, Peter Garson Robertson snr, 68, and his wife, Annemarie, prepared for the grim reality of spending their first Christmas without their only son.
“We’re going away for a little while. We can’t stay here. It’s just sad and brings bad memories. He (Peter) was supposed to come with us. We had all planned to go away on holiday,” said Robertson.
He said they still did not understand the motive behind their son’s death.
“We are sure of one thing. He (Ridgeway) was driven by pure evil. As an atheist, he clearly hated us for being Christians. He wanted to get rid of all of us. Why would you kill someone for playing loud music?
“Why couldn’t he come and speak to us if he had a problem. My son was hardly at home to disturb the peace. He always came back home from school in the evenings. Even when he played music in his car he would turn it down low when he drove into the driveway.
“I was always around. Everyone in this street played music from time to time. He complained about their music too but never attacked them like this,” said the retired Parkhurst Primary School principal.
On November 30, Ridgeway, a retired estate agent, is thought to have returned to the suburb to settle “unfinished business”. He had left home four months earlier after his wife divorced him and was staying at a guesthouse.
He is thought to have arrived at the Robertson’s home hidden behind a tree. He then attacked Robertson with two of his friends, Calvin Coetzer, 19, and Jonathan de Freitas after they arrived home just after 8pm.
He allegedly ordered the boys to lie down on the lawn, then shot Robertson in the head with a Magnum revolver. A bullet grazed Main’s leg. De Freitas escaped unhurt.
Ridgeway then took De Freitas and Main inside the house and demanded that they open the door leading to the swimming pool. Ridgeway later told the two boys to go back to their friend.
The two placed a wounded Robertson in his car and drove to the Brackendowns police station where ambulances waited for them.
Robertson died four days later at the Netcare Union Hospital.
Peter’s mother said she arrived at the house 10 minutes after the incident.
“I noticed that the doors were open and thought the boys had driven to a nearby store and that one of them was left behind. But I saw Peter’s cap and shoes on the lawn and knew something was wrong,” she said. Little did she know that Ridgeway had hid in the family swimming pool.
While in the house she received a call informing her that her son had been shot.
“I went inside to fetch my medical aid card and locked the sliding door near the swimming pool. I must have locked him (Ridgeway) outside without knowing it,” she said.
Ridgeway was found still hiding in the pool by the police. They found knives and ammunition in a bag he had with him. He allegedly tried to commit suicide while he stood in the pool, but the gun jammed.
A detailed plan of the attack and a suicide note were later found among his belongings at the guesthouse.
Annemarie said she was certain that Ridgeway was intent on wiping out the entire family.
“He was probably waiting for all of us but his plans were foiled by Peter’s friends,” she said.
She added in the 16 years they had been neighbours, Ridgeway refused to greet any member of the family. He always complained about loud music.
“Our other neighbours also had the same problem. He walked into their yards and reprimanded their children,” Peter Robertson snr said.
The couple said they would be at his court appear