Johannesburg - An Alberton family – who have had their home invaded twice in recent weeks – believe the men behind the incidents are either police or convincing police impersonators.
Elizabeth Hewitt* said the most recent incident happened on Sunday, when her family were tied up, threatened and robbed.
This attack was preceded by a raid on their home several weeks earlier by men claiming to be police officers, armed with police IDs and a search warrant.
On November 8, Hewitt was shocked when she was followed into her driveway by several cars carrying at least 12 men.
Thinking she was about to be robbed, she panicked. She got out of her car and prepared to run. But some of the men began shouting that they were police, and took out their IDs and even a search warrant with a stamp from a local court.
One of the men claimed he was a Captain Zuma from the Alberton SAPS and that the police had received a tip-off that there was a large amount of mandrax and dagga inside the home.
One of the men noticed she was shaking with fright and said she should go inside and have some sugar water.
They then began searching the house. But another one of the alleged officers stopped her entering the house, claiming she would have an opportunity to get rid of the supposed drugs.
Eventually, the men took Hewitt inside.
She was made to sit alongside her teenage daughter and mother.
The men began searching the premises and insisted that Hewitt open the garage safe to inspect it.
While the incident was at first traumatic, Hewitt was relieved when the men left the property, apologising for the inconvenience.
They found no drugs.
But on Sunday night Hewitt and her family were preparing to go to sleep when they heard a banging at their front door.
“Police! Police!” a group of men shouted as they kicked at her front door.
The four men had parked outside in a white Golf 6, and managed to lift her front gate off its rails, making their way onto the property.
Hewitt began calling the local police,
but by this point, two of the men had already forced their way inside.
Armed with pistols, the two men grabbed Hewitt’s daughter and yelled at Hewitt and her husband to move into the kitchen.
Her husband and daughter were restrained with cable ties, while Hewitt begged for her six-year-old son to be brought to the kitchen to be with the rest of the family.
The men complied, but began barking at Hewitt to hand over the garage remote. They stripped the family of their jewellery.
By this point, the rest of the group had opened the garage door and managed to lift the large safe, which they transported outside.
After less than 10 minutes, the ordeal was over and the men were gone.
According to Hewitt, the men had a clear understanding of the home’s layout and knew exactly where to find the safe that held some of the money for her husband’s business.
She and her husband are convinced that the men had either been part of the group that had raided her home in November, or were at the very least tipped off by the people who conducted the raid.
But provincial police spokeswoman Sergeant Obakeng Mabaso said an investigation had yet to determine that the men involved were police officers.
“Although the complainant is of the opinion that the suspects may have been police officers, no evidence that suggests that it was indeed police officers was found at the scene. The allegations and information provided will be followed up,” said Mabaso.
“No evidence of a commissioned search or search warrant executed could be found at the local police station. There is also no Captain Zuma at the police station,” she added.
* Not her real name.