July 15 2009 at 07:49AM
A Pretoria businessman was gunned down during a robbery at his smallholding moments after his wife and a worker had left to make a delivery.
The murder of Nick Roets, 56, who was shot dead in his Raslouw home after he was overpowered by an unknown number of assailants at lunchtime on Tuesday, comes months after the collapse of a community watch system in the area.
Since the collapse, say neighbours, violent crime in the area has skyrocketed, with no apparent end in sight.
It is thought that the gunmen caught Roets by surprise as he sat at his desk in the study where he was apparently working on several of the business’ financial books.
Roets, who was shot through the heart, is believed to have been killed with his own revolver, which, according to the police, was among six guns that were stolen, along with money and a laptop computer.
It is believed that the gunmen took Roets’s gun – which he always carried with him after the family were attacked in their home in 2001 – after overpowering him.
As crying friends and relatives gathered to comfort the Roets family, shocked neighbours stood outside their homes waiting for news.
“I can’t believe it. I have spent most of the day outside and did not hear anything,” said neighbour Peter Kgatuke. He described Roets as a friendly man who always had a smile on his face.
“Whenever I saw him as I left for work he would wave and smile at me. He seemed to be a very kind person, and my heart goes out to his family,” he said.
Kgatuke added that since the collapse of the area’s community watch system, violent crime had escalated.
“Last week my neighbour’s domestic worker narrowly escaped an attack when robbers broke into the house. These crimes are all because our community security system has fallen apart,” he said, describing how effective the neighbourhood watch system had been.
Asked why the system had collapsed, Kgatuke said: “I do not know. Everyone was in e-mail contact with each other. We were in the process of erecting security walls and gates around our community, and everything seemed to be on track until it suddenly all fell apart.
“I am still trying to understand why the system collapsed,” he said, adding that at the time of the collapse he had feared that someone would be seriously injured or even killed in an attack.
Another neighbour, Imtiaz Patel, agreed and said the gated community system would have gone a long way towards protecting people.
“Unfortunately it did not materialise and now this has happened. Our greatest fears have been realised,” he said.
He said it would now be a case of people waking up in the morning and wondering who had been killed during the night. “It is imperative that we revise this community watch system if our neighbourhood is to be kept safe. We cannot allow these killings to continue,” he said.
Another resident, who asked not to be named, said his family were terrified. “If this can happen in broad daylight, imagine what can happen at night. We do not feel safe. We already have burglar bars and alarms. What else are we now meant to do to protect ourselves?” he asked.
At the time of going to press, Roets’s family were not available for comment.
A friend said: “They are too distraught to even think properly. They do not know where to begin.”
Police spokesperson Captain Louise Read confirmed that the murder happened shortly after Roets’s wife and a worker left on an errand. “When she returned at 2pm she found her husband dead in the study. At this stage the motive for the killing appears to be robbery, as six guns, along with a laptop computer and hi-fi system, were taken.
“Roets’s revolver was also stolen,” she said.
It was not known how the gunmen entered the house as there was no sign of forced entry. “This will form part of our investigation,” Read said, adding that the police were following several leads.
Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of the gunmen can contact CrimeStop at 08600-10111.
This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on July 15, 2009