Given five seconds to live

2015-12-21 14:06

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Pietermaritzburg - With a gun to her head, an elderly Greytown woman fell to her knees and prayed for her life as the gunman started to count down from five.

The woman was left unscathed but her husband, Joe Fabian (76), was shot dead at point blank range at their Greytown farmhouse on Saturday.

The robbers made off on foot with only a computer screen, leaving Cathy Fabian frantically weeping over her dead husband’s body.

The couple, who rent a house on Purbrook Farm, were attacked in broad daylight on Saturday afternoon by three men, one of whom was armed.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Cathy said she was traumatised and could not eat or sleep after her husband of 53 years was murdered.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Cathy said she was sewing in her room while Joe, who worked as a plumber, was having an afternoon nap in the lounge.

She then heard a loud bang.

The noise had come from a gunshot that pierced Joe Fabian’s forehead, killing him instantly as he sat on his lounge chair.

“He was watching TV. They walked in and shot him in the head,” Cathy said.

On entering the lounge, Cathy was confronted by the brazen robbers.

One intruder pointed a firearm at her and demanded cash and guns. After she pleaded with the men, saying they had no cash or firearms on the premises, the gunman told her she had five seconds to live.

“They said if I do not tell them where to find the safe by the time he counts to five, he will shoot me,” Cathy said.

As the assailant began counting down, Cathy fell to her knees and prayed.

“In the name of Jesus, please don’t shoot me,” Cathy said, repeating her prayers.

“They just turned around and walked off after I said that. It is by the grace of God that I am still alive.”

The men left her sobbing on the floor, stole a computer screen and fled into a nearby plantation.

Even though the attack happened at about 1.30 pm, it is believed the men could have arrived on the property more than an hour before.

According to KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) president Andy Buchan a stranger had earlier approached the farm owner’s house, which is a separate property on the farm.

Farm owners Karel and Eleanora de Nysschen said the man had come to ask for work but they turned him down.

He disappeared shortly afterwards; however, Eleanor said that judging by the description Cathy gave to her after the incident, the man may have been one of the attackers.

According to Buchan, the men had not forcibly entered the Fabians’ home and he warned all residents to keep their homes locked at all times.

“Roughly 80 to 85% of all attacks on farms reported to us result from an unforced entry.

“Owners need to be more vigilant and aware of their surroundings, especially around the festive season,” Buchan said.

Kwanalu security desk chairperson Koos Marais described the murder as “senseless and cold blooded”.

“It is time the government and the community take strong actions against the violent culture of murder in this country,” Marais said.

“So far in KZN this year, there have been four farm murders and 38 attacks that we know of. This figure is alarming.”

KZN police spokesman Major Thulani Zwane said Greytown police are investigating a case of murder and no arrests have been made thus far.SPEAKING to The Witness yesterday, Karel and Eleanora de Nysschen described their encounter with a man who may have been involved in Joe Fabian’s murder.

Eleanor said at around midday on Saturday she heard her son’s dog barking in the neighbouring house. The dog went quiet, but after her son left to go to town, it started barking again.

Becoming suspicious, Eleanora said she went outside to find a man standing at their gate, about 100 metres away from her door.

“I shouted to see what he wanted. He asked for a job but I said no,” Eleanora said.

“Five minutes later, Cathy [Joe’s wife] called us to say Joe had been shot.”

Karel said he hurried over to the Fabians’ home, which is about 200 metres away, and found Cathy in a “state of panic”.

Karel said when he looked at Joe, it seemed as though he was asleep on the couch, still watching TV with the remote in his hand.

“The Fabians have lived with us for about 30 years. We have lived here for about 40, and in those years, we have only been burgled twice while we were away at church,” Karel said.

“Joe was a nice guy”.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  murder  |  farm attack

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