'Gang of robbers behind brutal robberies'

By Time of article published Jan 9, 2008

Share this article:

By Alex Eliseev

The terrifying trail of a gang of robbers - headed by a man known as Razor - has begun emerging in Joburg's northern suburbs.

Police believe the gang is behind the brutal robbery at the home of Wits professor Alan Paterson - in which his 17-year-old daughter was raped - and an attack on the family of a Sandton pastor, among others.

In the robbery of Pastor Neil Rischbieter, his wife Carol and two other women were raped and his elderly parents terrorised for three hours.

In the Paterson attack, Paterson's wife Bronwyn was stabbed with a pair of scissors, three of her ribs were broken, her nose was smashed and a piece of her ear was torn off. She spent five days in intensive care.

After raping Paterson's teenage daughter, Jamie, a robber matter-of-factly told her he was HIV-positive.

In both cases, five armed intruders struck at roughly the same time of the night.

But police didn't make the connection until detectives from Sandton police station's tracing task team pounced on two suspects on Christmas Day and the Day of Goodwill.

The hunt is now on for 26-year-old Bheki Zulu (Razor) and the alleged remaining members of the gang: Sibusiso Mashinini (aka Sbu) and Maxwell Keswa (aka Thabang).

Zulu was also arrested for attempted murder in 2005 after a botched robbery.

The unit has already linked the gang to four cases, confiscated weapons and had a couple of families identify a small fortune of recovered items.

The hunt for Razor's gang began after police collected clues at Paterson's Strathavon home and identified three suspects. A crucial clue was gathered in the shower, where Jamie was raped.

The attack took place on October 2 - not long before Jamie, a school prefect, was due to start her final exams.

Despite the trauma, and sickness from the ARV drugs, she secured seven distinctions.

"The robbers enjoyed every bit of the attack. It was brutal," Alan said on Tuesday as his family took part in a third identification parade.

On December 17, five men broke into Rischbieter's Buccleuch home - where he and his wife Carol throw swimming parties for children from a nearby shelter.

Neil's parents, Joey and Noel, and a woman renting a cottage also live on the property. On the night, the tenant had three friends over, including another woman in her 20s.

The gang tied up their victims and rounded them up in Joey and Noel's cottage.

Carol was brought to the cottage but then marched back to the house. Her assailant tried to force her into the bathroom, but she refused, and he raped her in the bedroom.

"I was praying for him and his forgiveness," she said.

"I told him: 'You don't need to do this. You don't know how much Jesus loves you. Jesus will forgive you'."

The young tenant and her friend were also raped and one of their male friends was beaten by the robbers after he slipped out of the phone cords used to tie him up. The robbers also asked where they could find potatoes to gag their hostages - a sign Carol took to mean imminent death. Luckily, none could be found.

The family said the police's response was brilliant and they were delighted that arrests had been made.

"It won't be long before they get the other three. We are very impressed with the police," Neil said.

Paterson also said he was impressed with the police's efforts, but his family have been subjected to bungled ID parades and on-the-air radio disputes with the police.

On Tuesday, he said his family were still very angry.

On December 25, members of the tracing unit received information about one of the men wanted in connection with the Paterson case and pounced on the first suspect. George Myembe, 32.

A link between the Paterson and Rischbieter robberies was quickly established, and the following night, the unit struck again, this time catching Armando Makamo, 28. He later tried to commit suicide in his police cell.

Mashianini was almost caught but managed to slip away.

Since the arrests, at least two Buccleuch families have come forward to identify goods seized from the alleged gang members.

Anyone with information can contact the tracing task team or detectives at Sandton police station on 011-722-4200.

Share this article: