Walter Stander, owner of Sniper Protection Services in Bethal, was attacked and assaulted on Sunday evening.
The ‘Generaal’ as he insists to be called by the security guards who work for him, alleged that a gang of men beat him up at a well-known intersection.
He claimed he was in the process of opening a police case while speaking to Ridge Times on Monday morning.
However, at the time of going to press, police spokesperson Constable Thomas Mogadime said that no such case was opened.
“We have been trying to locate Mr Stander in this regard, but to no avail,” he said.
It seems that the assailants ‘sniped’ Stander, a term he uses to describe the sneaking up on unsuspected workers and allegedly shocking them with a taser gun.
But a cloud of controversy hung over Stander’s head last week when former employees of the company appeared on television with tales of abuse and exploitation. Video footage was aired of two sleeping men being ‘sniped’.
More employees, most of whom reported having recently been sacked or had resigned, came forward after Adriaan Keyser (now 19) and DJ van Straaten (now 19) spoke to the media.
Keyser worked as an untrained guard for about six months last year and alleges to be one of the youngsters seen in the tasing videos. He opened an assault case against Stander at the Bethal Police Station last Thursday.
“I still have nightmares about that incident. I had been working three 12-hour shifts back-to-back without any breaks. This is what he did when I fell asleep,” Keyser told Ridge Times.
Keyser’s life has not been free of trauma. He recalled being the victim of a blitz attack at age 15 when two drug addicts injected him with heroin in Kriel. A young teenager at the time, he came close to dying.
Keyser has suffered since and according to him, the alleged tasing by Stander made it worse.
Van Straaten, a young father of a three-month-old baby, said he was paid about R100 per shift. He worked on and off for Sniper since he was 16 years old.
“We worked as farm security guards and Walter would drop us off on the sites. There were times when I was not relieved from my duties or fetched after a shift.”
Van Straaten claimed that although they were made to stand on parade every day, they were not trained and would not have known what to do if a farm was under attack.
“We had to wear masks and Walter gave us these flimsy swords that resemble Japanese Katanas, but I think they were knock-offs. There are only four of these swords that had to rotate between the sites,” Van Straaten said.
Van Straaten also alleged that their wages were minimal, they did not receive any overtime and were paid on a ‘no work no pay’ basis.
20-year-old Christopher Horn, also a former employee, is an epileptic. He claimed that Stander ordered him to skip some doses of his medication, especially at night.
“One day in the brigadier’s (Theresa Stander) office, he held a gas pistol to my face and told me to fight it off. I could not.”
Horn claimed he was fired since appearing on television.
Another employee, who is petrified of Stander and wanted to remain anonymous, said he was often the object of the General’s verbal and physical abuse.
According to him, he was allegedly assaulted, to the extent that he spent several days in hospital in February 2019.
The employees were allegedly forced to sign contracts in which they agree to several conditions, such as being given a jail sentence if the employee betrays the company.
It states: “I agree that, if I commit treachery against the company that employs me, I will face a minimum jail time of eight years.”
Ridge Times has obtained a copy of said contract.
Stander’s past was also in the spotlight amid the allegations.
He was convicted of killing his first wife in Pretoria in 1999. Other criminal charges had been withdrawn. He told Ridge Times on Monday he did not understand why his past is being dredged up again.
“I paid for it. I was in jail for eight years and on parole for eight more.”
Stander came to Bethal about five years ago to start a rehabilitation centre, Kuriaké House of Restoration, but the establishment closed down.
The venue is now being used as housing for Sniper’s guards.
Stander further commented that the tasing videos were used as training material and that nobody had actually been tased.
“It was all staged. Look closely, you will see the guard does not even flinch the way someone will when you are being shocked.”
He said the allegations against him were fabricated.
Stander used an analogy to describe what the employees did daily: “These men are no more than sheepherders working on farms. They are not expected to fight, but to merely look out for unwanted elements and then warn the farmer if something is suspicious.
“I am willing to take a polygraph as proof that I am telling the truth. I merely tried to help unemployed people who struggled to stay off the streets.”
Stander said the swords and scary masks were merely used as a show of force on photos. Stander also said that Sniper did not offer armed response services.
The Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) has vowed to investigate Sniper.
Siziwe Zuma, spokesperson of PSIRA, said Stander was given five days to get his paperwork in order, and that PSIRA would also ask the department of labour to investigate the exploitation allegations.
The alleged leaked videos were supplied to Ridge Times.