Crime

Waterval Boven on the brink

A community in the small town of Waterval Boven, just 105km from Middelburg, came to the brink of all out warfare this week which pitted neighbours against each other and follows three weeks of savage attacks on a home, the beating of an English woman 17 times with a sjambok, swearing and intimidation of children in the street, and the police breaking into and raiding a house.

Men, women and even a child have been left bleeding in the streets and there’s accusations and counter accusations. Neutral residents are referring to the street where the attacks have occurred as “lawless and ungovernable”.

Jonathan de Beer shortly after he was attacked with boiling water. (Cellphone image)
Jonathan de Beer shortly after he was attacked with boiling water. (Cellphone image)

It all culminated on Monday, 20 June with the arrest of a man identified as David Vernon – a resident new to the town and an English national. But the town remains on edge.

According to his partner, Lindy van der Walt, the whole issue started over R100 but has now devastated their family and friends caught in the crossfire and who were also subject to brutal attacks and beatings – which by her own admission occurred at the hands of unknown assailants.

“They were our friends and we loaned them R100 at the beginning of June, and when they returned it a scuffle broke out between my partner, David, and the other man, whose name is Solomon”.

Lindy says this started a chain-reaction of events of intimidation and threats, and she claims that since that day they have been attacked at least 12 separate times.

“David has been chased in the street by Solomon and his friends, they’ve attacked our house and broke the windows with a hammer, a group of about 30 men and boys, the youngest of which is just 14 years old, broke down our doors, telling us that they will kill us. I was attacked with a sjambok and they assaulted my friend, too. My friend’s son had boiling water thrown onto him and he sustained serious injuries. We are living in fear, this is like the wild west and the police are doing nothing”.

David's mother, Monica Pickering, holds up a tear gas canister that was fired into their home by police.
David’s mother, Monica Pickering, holds up a tear gas canister that was fired into their home by police.

Lindy says she has repeatedly pleaded to the police for help but to no avail. Cases that have been opened have been thrown out of court and now her partner has been arrested.

“The Police were here and demanded to see David. We didn’t let them in as we’ve been attacked so many times that we are now completely traumatised. They broke down the doors to enter our home. When I asked them why they were doing this they said they wanted a statement from David. They even fired tear gas into our house”.

Lindy’s yard is covered with various spots of blood splatter and she claims police are yet to collect any sort of evidence.

Lindy van der Walt also bled from her head after she was assaulted with a sjambok. (Cellphone image).
Lindy van der Walt seen bleeding from her head after she was assaulted with a sjambok. (Cellphone image).

The Police did returned on Monday to arrest David. At the time of going to press it was stated that David would appear before court on Wednesday on charges of assault and intimidation.

“We fear that a riot could take place at any moment. There are residents here who want the violence and aggressive attacks to stop, and some are prepared to go to any lengths to ensure that happens,” said Lindy.

“We’ve been in contact with the British Embassy regarding the arrest of David and they have assured us that they will do everything they can to assist us”.

Although Lindy’s story corresponds to that of certain neighbours, Solomon Maisela’s version is completely different and other neighbours acknowledge his version.

Jonathan de Beer (back) has been thrown at with hot water, Willem Wewege (back) was assaulted, Lindy van der Walt was bleeding from her head and her mother in law says she witnessed everything. The purple house in the background is where Solomon lives.
Jonathan de Beer (back) has had hot water thrown at him, Willem Wewege (back) was assaulted, Lindy van der Walt was bleeding from her head and her mother in law says she witnessed everything. The purple house in the background is where Solomon lives.

“Firstly, they gave us R100 to buy something for them, but we didn’t get a chance to and returned the money. We gave it to Lindy but she didn’t tell David, and thus we had an argument,” says Solomon. He has sustained injuries to his forehead and face as a result of scuffles with David and required at least five stitches. He says David attacked him with a spade.

“Any person in this neighbourhood will tell you that David has gone crazy. He stands outside his house and swears at every person of colour. He threatens my kids and tells them he will kill their father. He came to my house with a hacksaw and threatened me. He swears at my 67 year old mum each time she passes his house. It has reached a point where most people in this neighbourhood have had enough and want him out”.

Solomon’s mother, Ms Maria Maisela, said that she is afraid of David. “He nearly killed my son. We are scared of what he is capable of.”

Solomon Maisela with his mum, Maria. He sustained injuries to his forehead and face and required stitches. Maria says that she's been sworn at and fears David.
Solomon Maisela with his mum, Maria. He sustained injuries to his forehead and face and required stitches. Maria says that she’s been sworn at and fears David.

Another neighbour, Pieter Titus, gave a similar statement, saying that his wife was sworn at by David for no apparent reason.

“If the police do not intervene soon we will be forced to take the law into our own hands and kick David out of this area,” said Pieter.

“He has no respect for people and swears at everyone. We are sure that he must be on drugs”.

Lindy has admitted that David suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“He is very protective of us,” she said.

Solomon added that he has opened two cases against David as well as applying of a protection order. “The day that police raided his house it was to get him to sign the document. He is a danger to us all.” He said that the day when a mob of people attacked David and his partner at their house it was because David had thrown a rock at a passing taxi.

“He did it for no reason. Everyone in that taxi jumped out and beat him up. I don’t even know those people,” said Solomon.

Captain Braam Louw of the Waterval Boven SAPS confirmed that a case was being investigated and that one person was arrested thus far.

“I cannot comment on accusations that police were aggressive when they attempted to arrest a suspect at his house. The investigation into this matter is ongoing and it’s premature to divulge in details until the suspect has appeared in court”.

Today (Tuesday) was the first time in the past three weeks that some sort of calm has been restored to the area but the community remains on edge. The Police would not say if more arrests will follow.

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