23 August 2023
Minor gets away with attempted robbery in Worcester due to sloppy police work
A Minor who attacked and attempted to rob an employee of MISA, the Motor Industry Staff Association, got away with this unlawful and senseless deed in Women’s Month because officers of the South African Police Service (SAPS) refused to arrest him.
The boy had a sharp sickle with him when he attacked Madelein Möller, MISA’s Recruitment and Liaison Officer in the Western Cape. She was recruiting members at a fuel station in Worcester.
On two video clips it clearly shows the incident when the masked boy, with a hoodie sitting outside the shop, attacked Möller from behind when she entered the shop.
“I did not know what was going on when he grabbed me by the neck. It was terrifying because he tried to drag me outside. I did not know what he wanted to do with me because I had nothing besides my cellphone with me,” says Möller who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress after the incident and is undergoing counselling.
She is so grateful to the four men who came to her rescue when they saw what was happening. The minor ran away but returned later that day.
“The employees of the fuel station pressed the panic button and the security company kept the minor there until officers of the Worcester Police Station arrived. Once they established that he was a minor, they refused to arrest him, saying that they cannot arrest him without his mother being present,” says Möller.
MISA showed the footage of the incident to prosecutors and magistrates who are in agreement that the officers was either totally incompetent or simply too lazy to do the paperwork.
In terms of the Child Justice Amendment Act, the SAPS can arrest any child over the age of 12 years, but have to adhere to specific procedures. The child may not be kept in the holding cell with adults.
The parents of the child and a social worker must be contacted. In the absence of the parents, the social worker must make arrangements for the child to be kept in a place of safety, pending court proceedings.
“This is unacceptable. If the SAPS followed the procedures set out by the Act, the child could have gotten helped at least. What happened here is a very serious offence. The video footage and refusal of the SAPS officers to open a criminal case, makes a mockery of the quarterly crime statistics released by Police Minister Bheki Cele,” says Martlé Keyter, MISA’s Chief Executive Officer: Operations.
This is the third time this year that Möller has been attacked while working in Cape Town and its surrounding areas. In the previous two incidents she was robbed in Strand and was the victim of a smash and grab incident in peak traffic on the N2.
As a result she suffers from nightmares and flashbacks.
“I feel as if I constantly need to look over my shoulder. I know it will pass, but I believe the SAPS should have followed the correct procedures for the child o get help and to prevent him from attacking another victim. Next time there might be more severe consequences,” says Möller.
Col Willis Smit, Acting Station Commander of the SAPS in Worcester, admitted that the correct procedure was not followed. WO Wathiswa Jacobs, police spokesperson of Worcester Police Station, responded that MISA’s complaint will be investigated.
Issued on behalf of MISA by Sonja Carstens, Manager of MISA’s Media & Communication Department.
For MISA Press Releases, phone Carstens on 082 463 6806 or email Sonja.Carstens@ms.org.za
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