Pieter van der Westhuizen, the brother of Springboks icon Joost, has secured legal representation and is cooperating with the police on Monday morning after he gunned down a group of armed robbers at a church in Centurion. Worshippers were confronted by violence and threats before the quick-thinking congregant intervened.
Who is Pieter van der Westhuizen?
Pieter, who has previously served as an officer for the SA Police Service (SAPS), was in possession of his weapon while attending the Sunday service. As the situation escalated, the well-known churchgoer ensured that he would be the one to fire first, killing two of the crooks in the process.
However, a third suspect managed to flee the scene in a getaway vehicle. Police continue to hunt for him, but in the meantime, van der Westhuizen has decided to get himself some legal protection. Ulrich Roux, representing the Centurion-based citizen, says his client acted in self-defence:
"Three armed men entered the church and demanded valuables from churchgoers. Shots were fired after which my client, Pieter van der Westhuizen, who was armed with a licensed firearm at the time, did take the necessary action to protect not only his own life but also the lives of the other churchgoers."
"One of the perpetrators held a gun to the pastors' head, and Pieter acted in self-defence. However, my client has been in contact with the police. We are giving police our full cooperation."Ulrich Roux
Centurion shooting: What are the self-defence laws in South Africa?
Meanwhile, Pastor Kobus Erasmus – who suffered a head injury during the frantic altercation – says God used Pieter Van der Westhuizen 'as an instrument to protect the entire congregation'.
The self-defence laws of South Africa can be something of a grey area, but essentially, police must decide if the force used by Pieter van der Westhuizen was 'appropriate and necessary'. He is a licensed firearm owner, and Roux is keen to stress that this 'divine intervention' in the church also ended up saving lives.