3 misfires save farmer's life

2010-01-15 09:02

Petrus Steyn - The trigger was pulled once, twice, thrice - but not a single shot fired.

Jan van der Westhuizen, 59, a dairy farmer, said on Thursday he thanks God that not one of the shots actually fired when a robber wanted to kill him in his house.

Van der Westhuizen lives with his son, GF, on Houtnek smallholding.

He and his son left the house before 06:00 on Thursday. Van der Westhuizen picked up his labourers and went to the milking stalls while his son left for the farm where he works.

Van der Westhuizen says he had to use the bathroom later and went back to the house, where he unlocked the door and went inside.


He was immediately suspicious when he noticed that the lights in the house were switched on. Furthermore, he noticed bottles in the foyer which had been taken from the drinks cabinet in another room.

Van der Westhuizen was on his way to the kitchen when he saw the robber standing at his daughter's bedroom door. The robber was carrying his .38 revolver.

"What are you doing in my house?" the farmer asked.

The robber said he wanted money.

Van der Westhuizen threw about R150 on the floor.

The robber then pulled the trigger for the first time.

Van der Westhuizen says he can't describe the feeling which came over him at that point.

"At that stage [when the shot didn't fire] I realised the Lord is on my side."

The robber first ordered Van der Westhuizen to lie down on the ground, and then to come into his daughter's room.

"I decided he would shoot. He had pulled the trigger before."

He ran to another room.

Grateful to be alive

According to him, the robber must have pulled the trigger two more times, but once again, no shots were fired. The farmer stormed into another room and kept the door closed until the robber fled.

Van der Westhuizen says the robber stole the R150, as well as his son's cellphone, which he had forgotten at home that morning, but left the revolver outside the house.

The robber had forced open a steel door to gain access to the house. There is the suspicion that another robber could possibly have been in the house.

Van der Westhuizen says since a labourer wanted to hit him with a panga in December, he's kept his revolver in his bedside drawer at night.

On Thursday morning, he forgot to lock the firearm in the safe, which is how the robber got hold of the revolver.

Van der Westhuizen says when the robber pulled the trigger the first two times, there were only casings in the respective chambers of the revolver.

The third time, the striker slammed into the back.

He thanks his Creator for still being alive. "If it hadn't been for Him, I'd be gone. His mercy was there, His hand in everything."