2008-05-11 : 'I won't become another angry South African'

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2008-05-11 : 'I won't become another angry South African'

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2008-05-16 12:35

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1 ... 317C435119

'I won't become another angry South African'
Helen Bamford
May 11 2008 at 09:08AM

Just two weeks before his wife was gunned down in the driveway of their Bergvliet home, Smiley van Zyl handed in his firearms to the police.

He felt secure living in a quiet residential neighbourhood with a 70kg Rotweiller for protection.

That was until April 13 - the day his wife Jane was fatally shot in the head through her car window while waiting for the remote-controlled gate to open.

She was returning home after dropping Van Zyl, a former SACS teacher, at the Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic where he had been admitted for tests after suffering chest pains.

Van Zyl, 53, said when his wife kissed him goodbye she had mentioned being nervous going home alone.

"I jokingly told her not to be a girl and that Caesar, the Rotweiller, would be waiting for her in the driveway."

It was the last time he saw his wife of 32 years alive.

When, minutes later, a neighbour called him on his cellphone and asked if he knew what the "helluva bang" had been in their road, Van Zyl called ADT only to be told: "Don't worry sir, the lady at No 4 was shot, but everything is under control."

He found out later that the dog had been waiting but bolted when he heard the gunshot. Van Zyl found him hiding in the hedge, shaking.

He says relying on a dog, even a big one, for protection created a false sense of security which was just one of a number of lessons he learnt that night. He now wants to share these with others in an effort to prevent more people becoming victims.

Van Zyl said he has no regrets about handing his guns in to the police but it made him realise he needed to get involved with the local neighbourhood watch to make a difference. "I refuse to become just another angry South African. I'd rather take my energy and plough it into something constructive."

He said a lot of people became despondent about crime because they only looked at the bigger picture.

"But you need to rather just look at your own suburb and take it back so it becomes a 'no-go' area for criminals."

Van Zyl said he and his wife, who have two adult sons, had always been a fun-loving, happy-go-lucky couple who joked that the neighbourhood watch was for people "who enjoyed running around the streets at night because they probably had no sex life".

He said they also believed the police were lazy and useless and the government had a duty to protect its taxpaying citizens.

"But I've come to see that most cops are outstanding and people can't just sit back and do nothing. I don't want to run round the neighbourhood being a Rambo but I've realised we can be the eyes and ears of the police."

Van Zyl said what had most moved him following his wife's murder was the way the community had reacted.

In the aftermath, police and the local neighbourhood watch launched what they called "Operation Jane" to clean up the area.

It involved police helicopters, squad cars, road-blocks and many volunteers who worked through the night for a week to clamp down on crime. During that time incidents were down to virtually zero except for a few petty crimes.

A large group from the neighbourhood watch will go to court to protest against bail for one of the men charged with Mrs Van Zyl's murder, Gershwin Hartzenberg, 25, of Grassy Park, who was out on bail for a similar crime at the time she was shot.

Van Zyl will talk about what happened that fateful night and give tips on how to fight crime. It will take place at the Bergvliet High School on May 21 at 7.30pm.

This article was originally published on page 3 of Cape Argus on May 11, 2008
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Postby wrm » Fri, 2008-05-16 12:49

>Van Zyl will talk about what happened that fateful night and give tips on how to fight crime. It will take place at the Bergvliet High School on May 21 at 7.30pm.

Pardon me if I'm right but this fellow gave his guns to the cop and bought a dog. His wife got killed. And he thinks he can give tips on fighting crime?

How can he be anything but a bloody good example of a bad example?
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