Panga attack case reopened after Talk of the Town’s queries

No arrests made, even after man with gunshot wounds found in bush where attack happened

A week after Talk of the Town’s queries asking why SAPS had closed the case investigating the second panga attack at Cob Hole on the Kowie River last year, Nemato detectives reopened the case.

HEAD WOUND: Even after being hacked with a panga, Andre Adriaan managed to fight off robbers who attacked him and his friends at Cob Hole on the Kowie River on September 19 last year

After TotT’s initial queries to provincial SAPS went unanswered following police spokesperson Captain Mali Govender’s retirement, we asked stand-in spokesperson Captain Bradley Rawlinson to look into the matter.

Rawlinson responded later that the case had been reopened by Nemato detectives. The case was originally opened at the Nemato police station.

Panga attack victim Andre Adriaan was both shocked and disappointed when he received a message from SAPS earlier this month that the case he had opened had been closed after “all leads were followed up”.

Adriaan was fishing with three friends at Cob Hole on the Kowie River in September last year when they were attacked by six men wielding pangas and knopkieries.

Adriaan was unaware of a previous attack on anglers at the very same spot just 10 days earlier, until people on a passing boat warned them.

They had just started to pack up to go when they were accosted by the men. Adriaan was hacked on the head and arm with a panga. He fell over but managed to draw the pistol he had with him and fired four shots. He said he hit one of the attackers and they all retreated, one jumping into the river.

DEEP CUT: On September 19, panga-wielding robbers cut Andre Adriaan so badly in his arm he required 15 stitches. He has lost feeling in one of his fingers and has a pins and needles sensation in two other fingers

One of the other anglers, the 20-year-old son of one of his friends, was hit so hard with a knopkierie they broke his forearm.

But their attackers came back so Adriaan fired three more shots and the men fled. “I only had eight rounds in my pistol so I decided to keep one in case they blocked the way when we left,” he told TotT after the incident.

He said the attackers had slashed one of the tyres on his car, “but I drove on it flat and went straight to the hospital. I was bleeding quite badly.”

He required 10 stitches for his head wound and 15 for the deep cut in his arm.

His friends took the 20-year-old to hospital in Port Elizabeth, but when told the break was so bad he would require surgery, they decided to have it done in Johannesburg.

After going to hospital, Adriaan went first to the Port Alfred police station and then to the Nemato station to open a case. Police opened a case of robbery.

TotT learned in late November of a man with several gunshot wounds who was linked to the panga attack, but never arrested. Police spokesperson Captain Mali Govender said the man was found by police in the bush on the river bank on the same day Adriaan was attacked. He was taken to hospital for treatment.

A case of attempted murder was opened by the state, which Govender said was standard procedure in the case of someone with gunshot wounds.

A few days later, the gunshot victim went to the Nemato police station and reported that he was attacked and shot at.

Govender confirmed the man had not been arrested.

TotT heard nothing further until July 2, when Adriaan forwarded the message he had received from SAPS, which stated: “Investigation in NEMATO ref nr CAS 70/9/2020 – all leads followed up – case closed. Docket will be re-opened upon new leads. Do NOT reply to this SMS.”

HIT WITH A PANGA: Karisna Bissett required nine stitches after being struck with a panga by robbers at Cob Hole on the Kowie River on September 9 last year

There have also been no arrests in the first panga attack at Cob Hole, in which A 75-year-old man and his 19-year-old granddaughter were hacked on their heads with pangas, requiring stitches, and other family members were beaten with branches and kicked.

The initial police statement at the time said no injuries had been reported and that there was only one complainant.

We put further questions to the provincial SAPS office at the time, asking for an explanation for the discrepancies between the SAPS report and the family’s description of their experiences, and for police to respond to the accusation that the captain in the charge office had laughed at them and that police were reluctant to assist in tracking one of their stolen cellphones in Bathurst.

We have received no answers.


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