‘I was too busy surviving to feel scared’

2014-02-28 00:00

BEING a seasoned trauma surgeon helped Dr Daniel den Hollander (56) remain so calm during a farm robbery on Wednesday night, that he craftily tricked his attackers into pressing the panic button to alert help themselves.

Den Hollander, a trauma surgeon at Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban, was accosted by unknown men who held him up at gunpoint and robbed him as he arrived home in Camperdown.

Incidents like this are becoming a regular occurrence in the area following a spate of farm attacks in recent weeks by the “sticky tape” gang.

Den Hollander said he was waiting for his electric gate to open when he was accosted by five men, three carrying firearms. They broke his driver’s side window before dragging him out.

“I was not scared because I was too busy surviving and I guess it is because I deal with a lot of traumatic situations in my line of work so I have learnt to remain calm under stress,” he said.

Den Hollander said he did not press the panic button himself but instead he deliberately told the suspect to press it, tricking him into thinking it was a button to deactivate the alarm.

“When I think about it now I realise it was a stupid thing to do and I would not advise people to do it because those people could have killed me,” said Den Hollander.

He said he was grateful to his neighbours, security and police for the rapid response and support.

Divisional manager for Specialised Security Services, Neville Mipping, said Den Hollander fell and sustained a cut on his mouth when the attackers forcibly removed him from the vehicle.

“They tied him up with his belt and took R1 500 from his wallet and a cellphone before forcing him to open up the house, which they then ransacked before taking a flatscreen TV, bottles of alcohol and toolboxes,” he said.

Mipping said their members responded before the suspects fled with the items taken from the house.

“Our armed response found the stolen possessions next to the electric fence and police members of the dog unit tried to track the suspects down but were unable to find them in the bush after they had fled on foot,” said Mipping.

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said Camperdown police are investigating a case of house robbery and no arrests have been made.

Koos Marais of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union’s Security Desk said they were most concerned at the news of another attack in that area, and speculated that it could be the same gang involved.

He once again called on police to step up their visibility in rural areas.

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