Robbers reinforce emigrant’s decision

2017-08-24 13:33
Former Pietermaritzburg resident Peter Mullenbach survived a hijacking and robbery ordeal.

Former Pietermaritzburg resident Peter Mullenbach survived a hijacking and robbery ordeal. (Nok'thula Khanyile)

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For a few minutes, former Pietermaritzburg resident Peter Mullenbach lay face-down on the floor fearing for his life as four armed men barked orders at him.

Mullenbach, who had been in the country for just two hours after arriving from the United Kingdom, was one of the victims of the Polly Shortts liquor store armed robbery and hijackings last Thursday.

The armed gang struck the Polly Shortts liquor store last Thursday night and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Outside, the gang hijacked the cars of two people, including a member of the Dog Unit.

Mullenbach and his friend, Esme Sirilli from Lincoln Meade, had stopped at the bottle store to get a few beers when the robbers struck.

“I had only been in the country for two hours when the hijacking happened. We decided to stop at the liquor shop for a couple of drinks. While we were there I left Sirilli in the car and went inside the store. A few minutes later I heard her screaming.”

Before Mullenbach could go and investigate what was happening, four armed men stormed into the bottle store.

“They forced me back into the bottle store and told all of us to lie on the floor. A fifth robber dragged Sirilli out of the car at gunpoint, forcing her to go inside the bottle store as well.”

Mullenbach, who is emigrating to the UK, is in the country to process his spousal visa application.

The robbers ransacked the bottle store and then drove off in Sirilli’s VW Polo and a Mazda Drifter double cab belonging to the member of the Dog Unit.

The Mazda Drifter double cab was found overturned a few hours later in Camperdown.

“At the time I was very shaken. I only realised what was happening after I had a gun pointed at me.”

Mullenbach said the armed gang were youngsters in their 20s.

“They looked very nervous and distracted. They kept running in and out of the shop scared that someone may see what was happening and call the police.”

In outside CCTV footage, the armed gang are seen waiting for the first car to arrive before approaching the bottle store.

Mullenbach had a suitcase in the car that contained all his travel documents and other belongings.

“I was lucky I had my passport in my pocket. They took everything, including all the documents I brought here for my application. I was only left with the clothes I was wearing that day.”

During the robbery, Sirilli also lost a purse, which contained her bank cards.

“It was a harrowing experience but you gain your sanity in time. It is sad how the level of crime in this country has spiked.

“The incident has reinforced why my family took the decision to emigrate to the UK,” said Mullenbach.


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