Alex Mitchley
4 minute read
28 May 2015
11:00 am

Loud music ‘killer’ awaits medical observation

Alex Mitchley

While the man accused of killing 19-year-old Peter Robertson for allegedly playing music too loudly two years ago awaits a bed at the Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital for mental observation, the young man's family are waiting for justice to be served.

Peter Robertson poses for a portrait, 26 May 2015, at his home in Brakendowns, South of Johannesburg. Picture: Alaister Russell

In November 2013, retired estate agent Dave Ridgeway, 66, described as an “old, disgruntled” ex-neighbour allegedly waited for Robertson at his parent’s home in Brackendowns, Alberton.

According to police, when Robertson arrived at the house with two of his friends, Ridgeway told the three teenagers to lie on the ground before he shot Robertson in the head at point blank range and fired two more shots, one of which hit one of Robertson’s friends in the leg.

Ridgeway then allegedly went into the house, exited through the back door and fell in to the pool, where he allegedly tried to shoot himself but failed because the revolver was wet. Police spokesperson Colonel Veeshani Arikum, at the time of the shooting, said when Ridgeway was arrested; he kept chanting that he hated the loud music that kids played in the area.
Robertson was rushed to hospital, where he died four days later.

Ridgeway, who faces one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder, was supposed to go on trial in February this year, but his defence counsel said she was unable to take proper instructions from him as he was unable to communicate a proper defence. According to the National Prosecuting Authority, an application for Ridgeway to be admitted for observation was granted on March 24, but that Ridgeway was number 147 on the waiting list for a bed.

He is still currently waiting to be placed in Sterkfontein. Robertson’s father, Peter Robertson Snr, said the family had been taking it one day at a time since his son’s death. “It has been a very difficult and hard journey to live with the grief and the loss we experienced,” he said.

A picture of Peter Robertson's son , 26 May 2015, at his home in Brakendowns, South of Johannesburg. Picture: Alaister Russell

A picture of Peter Robertson’s son , 26 May 2015, at his home in Brakendowns, South of Johannesburg. Picture: Alaister Russell

As the Robertson family look for closure, the case has been postponed time and time again. “When the court case gets put on hold it frustrates us as we want closure and to see justice done,” said Robertson, adding that he understood that the wheels of justice turn slowly.

Police confirmed Ridgeway had moved away from the street where the Robertsons lived several months before the murder and that he had gone through a divorce and appeared to be suffering financially. More so, before the murder, a complaint was received that Ridgeway wanted to commit suicide. Police monitored him but nothing transpired. Arikum said neighbours had painted a picture of Ridgeway as a disgruntled old man who had a problem with everyone and would complain about everything.

Robertson’s brother Louis Van Heerden recalled when his brother was only seven years old; Ridgeway was belligerent towards him when he went to collect a soccer ball that accidently ended up in Ridgeway’s yard. “Peter kicked his soccer ball over the fence by accident one day and Dave Ridgeway stabbed the ball to pieces before throwing back over the fence,” said Van Heerden.

Ridgeway had lived next to the Robertsons since Peter was a baby, and has a history of complaining about kids in the neighbourhood. “He complained about many kids in the area that were allegedly playing loud music,” said Arikum. Ridgeway is expected back in court on August 26.

Peter Robertson poses for a portrait, 26 May 2015, at his home in Brakendowns, South of Johannesburg. Picture: Alaister Russell

Peter Robertson poses for a portrait, 26 May 2015, at his home in Brakendowns, South of Johannesburg. Picture: Alaister Russell

Reminiscing about his son, Robertson senior spoke with emotion in his voice, but as he shared stories, the love and good memories became palpable. “Peter was a gentle and caring person, very special to us,” he said.

He said that although a teenager, Robertson was well-adjusted and family-orientated. He recalled that when the first time his son got a girlfriend, the very first thing he wanted to do was introduce her to the family.

He said that Robertson was a talented pool player, having made the Gauteng team as well as travelled overseas to compete in competitions. Robertson’s brother, Louis Van Heerden, echoed his stepfather’s sentiments that Robertson was a sterling pool player and that he had aspirations of becoming an architect.

“I could have not asked for a better brother, he was loving and kind and well-liked by everyone who crossed his path,” said Van Heerden. Robertson’s mom, Annemarie, said her son was wonderful and was known for caring about other people. “He was loved by all who knew him,” she said.