Bridget Oppenheimer (87) robbed at knife-point

2008-08-08 00:00

South Africa’s most famous billionairess, Bridget Oppenheimer (87), was robbed at knifepoint in her La Lucia mansion in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Oppenheimer, the widow of De Beers boss Harry, and one of South Africa’s most noted and celebrated horse breeders, lost her television and handbag in the robbery, but was not harmed.

Ironically, the robbers ignored priceless antiques that decorate the mansion. Also untouched was Bridget Oppenheimer’s celebrated 23-carat diamond ring, which was stolen in a 1955 burglary but returned to her by police.

Police told Weekend Witness that they suspect the robbers, two youths and a middle-aged man, gained access to Oppenheimer’s La Lucia mansion Milkwood House by walking along the beach and cutting a hole in the perimeter fence, which bounds the ocean-facing side of the mansion.

Unnoticed by patrolling guards from a well-known security company, the three men forced open a window.

The men then headed for the only room in the mansion that had a light on — Mrs Oppenheimer’s bedroom.

Here two members of the gang held the elderly woman while another warned her not to raise the alarm. The men were armed with knives and, after picking up her handbag and television, the trio fled.

It is the third high-profile home to be targeted by thieves in the wealthy area north of Durban.

The home of KZN Premier S’bu Ndebele was burgled several weeks ago by thieves who stole a computer and other goods. Investigations by the Provincial House Robbery Task Team tracked down the burglars, two of whom have confessed to their crime. Another is on the run.

The week before last, the wife of a well-known Durban attorney, who has a home in the same area as Mrs Oppenheimer, was robbed in her home. Police from the same unit have also made arrests in this case, which they believe was orchestrated by the gardener and the maid together with their father.

The Oppenheimer case is not believed to be linked to the other crimes.

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