Thursday, November 12, 2009

A violent bloody day

A dead child, a shootout in a busy intersection, shattered victims, injured suspects - it all happened today and landed in my shift. This shift turned into one of those nightmare days that had me thinking that while it could make for a pretty good, if somewhat unbelievable fiction story.
Soon after arriving at the office I picked up a strange e-mail from paramedics about a call they'd responded to in Craighall Park where they entered a flat and found a man lying on his bed with a knife in his chest. His four-year-old daughter was found dead beside him.
So off I headed with ChiefPhotographer to the place where it all happened. We spoke to various people and pieced together the scenario: the dad was a friendly guy who often made food which he sold to people in the area and was often seen with his little girl. Last night the mom arrived home and found everything locked, the curtains all closed and nobody answering her calls. She found a groundsman who helped her climb a ladder and break a window to get in and found her child throttled and her husband lying with a knife in his chest.
This morning he was placed under police guard - seems he strangled the child and then attempted suicide. So he's probably going to go down for murder. If his life was bad before, it's about to get worse.
Before we were finished we got another call - a shooting at the intersection of Jan Smuts and Republic in Randburg. So off we went.
Crime scenes in the sun with no shop nearby have to rate as one of my least favourite places to be on a hot day. I get sunburnt, my face goes red and the smell of baking blood makes me gag after a bit. To top it all, our early arrival upset one stroppy little cop who screamed at us as we stood behind his cordons, pointing his finger at us and accusing us of destroying evidence. Truly an annoying character who did not even have a proper gun holster and kept pulling out his handgun and then sticking it back into the side of his pants. He did not look menacing or cool. He did look like an idiot.
Three armed robbers had hit a small business in the area and then caught a taxi. Their victims however, who they'd left tied up, managed to escape and followed them, and set the Metro cops on their tail. As they bounced off in their taxi they realised the cops were onto them and started shooting. The cop got hit in the stomach and fired back, hitting one of the suspects in the leg as the green taxi hit a wall and stopped. The two unhurt guys hightailed it off.
Spectators gathered at the scene and detectives would come and go. There were lights and sirens going. It was chaotic.
And so we waited for the official cop spokeswoman to arrive and give us the official line. During that time the cops managed to catch one of the fugitives and brought him back to where we were, lying him on the ground next to his injured buddy who had fallen asleep on a pillow, arms cuffed behind him with a drip feeding him from where it was hung inside the crashed taxi.
Suspect number two was badly damaged. He was bleeding from the head and hardly conscious. I thought he had been shot and checked this with the cop.
The response: "Um, no. He was running away from us and he fell."
Ja right!


  1. Your blog is really interesting.I'm waiting for your new post.

  2. Thats some day Jozi... I dunno how you do it.

  3. Your reputation spreads JJ, a million miles away in cosy, bland Britain (been here for 2 years now). So enjoy reading your pages, and this one brings on a shiver - my old stamping grounds of Linden just a few minutes away. Dear bleeding Jozi.

    This short features writing course I'm taking at the local uni (Warwick) requires homework in the form of a blog:
    in which I've included a link to your piece to add credibility. Our tutor has commented on it, but to be able to add your voice direct from the crime-face would be huge for me (not for publication).

    If you have time could you add your own crit / comments for this cub features writer?! Any comment - rough or smooth, but honest. Please. Many tx.

    (btw you met my daughter in CT recently, and a couple of years ago helped my son with an internship at the Star)