Ex-cop who shot dead armed robbers at church service ‘acted in self-defence’ – police

The trio had stormed into the church service, holding congregants at gunpoint. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Goran Bogicevic

A police investigation has determined that Pieter van der Westhuizen acted in self-defence when he shot dead two armed robbers who targeted churchgoers at the Querencia Ministries Church in Centurion last year.

Van der Westhuizen’s legal representative Ulrich Roux said on Tuesday that the police confirmed during their investigation that his actions in all probability resulted in the prevention of any innocent churchgoers being hurt or killed by the robbers.

Van der Westhuizen, an ex-policeman, allegedly produced his own firearm and shots were fired, fatally wounding two suspects who had attempted to rob congregants while the church service was under way in July 2020. A third suspect ran off.

An inquest docket was opened by the police.

“In accordance with the inquest procedure, an investigation was conducted by the SAPS in order to determine whether our client acted negligently and/or without any lawful justification when he shot and killed the two robbers,” Roux said in a statement.

He said charges against his client were withdrawn and the docket had been closed by the police.

“Our client is relieved that this ordeal has been brought to finality and that he can carry on with his life. He would furthermore like to thank the SAPS for their diligent work in finalising this investigation,” he said.

Van der Westhuizen is the brother of the late Springbok rugby player Joost van der Westhuizen.

According to earlier police reports, three suspects stormed into the church during a service and robbed congregants at gunpoint. They repeatedly pistol-whipped pastor Kobus Erasmus, before forcibly taking valuables away from members of the congregation.

The pastor sustained minor injuries and was treated on site. The police recovered one firearm at the scene.

The congregation hailed Van der Westhuizen as a hero.


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