House invasions in Bloem: To shoot or not to shoot

Park Road’s Cluster Commander, Brigadier Kgothatso Ramokotjo

A recent incident in which a Bloemfontein man shot and killed an intruder at his home in Langenhoven Park has once again raised questions about a resident’s rights in terms of defending himself and his property in case of a house invasion.

A case of murder was opened after a the Langenhoven Park man had fired four shots, fatally wounding one of four intruders during the attempted house robbery. The man is currently out on bail.

Bloemfontein Courant spoke to Brigadier Kgothatso Ramokotjo, Cluster Commander of the Park Road Police Station, to get insight regarding the rights people have when protecting themselves from intruders during a house robbery.

“We as citizens and as law enforcement agents have to operate within the confines of the constitution and the laws of the country at all times. Everyone has the right to the freedom of the person. Once that right gets taken away from you, you have the right to defend yourselves.

“You can use force proportionally to the amount of force directed towards you, however, that does not absolve you from your actions being tested in a court of law in order to determine whether you acted within the confines of the law or not,” he added.

The psychological impact of experiencing a house robbery might be more of a hurdle to overcome than the loss of material things. A victim of a house robbery shared her story with Bloemfontein Courant on condition of anonymity. “I had to see a psychologist to help me deal with the shock and trauma. I could not sleep and had nightmares. For months after the incident I was emotionally fragile and I cried for just about any reason. My husband and I still don’t feel safe in our own house,” she said.

Counselling psychologist, Rozanne Botha, shared her professional opinion regarding the effects of trauma on a victim. “A house robbery is an invasion of your private space. It usually results in the loss of private property and items of sentimental value. This can cause feelings of anger, which over a period of time, can develop into sadness and a sense of hopelessness,” said Botha.

She also mentioned the various ways the effects might present themselves: “Physical symptoms such as a change in sleeping and eating habits, perspiration, dry mouth and shivering may be present for up to 30 days. The person might also experience flashbacks or nightmares for six to eight weeks,” she concluded. – Molebogeng Malebo