Invasion Terror

2013-08-01 00:00

A FRAIL 84-year-old woman was still recovering after being throttled in her Scottsville home on Sunday, only to be attacked again yesterday.

The woman was beaten and tied up by a gang of men, who also turned on her neighbour, who interrupted the robbery. The men escaped with their loot.

It is thought the same gang was involved in both incidents.

The elderly woman’s 54-year-old neighbour, who has a house key, did her usual check to see that all was in order.

When she opened the woman’s front door yesterday, she walked straight into the robbery in progress.

She too was grabbed by the three robbers, who had already assaulted her elderly neighbour and were ransacking the house. The neighbour’s face was badly bruised in the assault.

Both women were in shock yesterday morning. Their names are being withheld at the request of the neighbour, who declined to speak to the media.

The women were taken for medical treatment and are receiving counselling.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said that after they managed to free themselves, the women raised the alarm, calling police who had attended to another robbery at the elderly woman’s home on Sunday.

In that incident, the robbers entered her home by smashing in her back door with a spade. The men throttled her with a piece of cloth and fled with R4 000 in cash.

In yesterday’s incident, she was in her garden at around 8.30 am when a gang accosted her. The men bundled her inside and trashed her home.

When the unsuspecting neighbour arrived, the robbers assaulted both women and tied them up with electrical cord.

Having gathered their booty, they wrapped it in a duvet and stuffed what they could into suitcases. They left the scene, walking down Golf Road. Unbeknown to them, the women had managed to free themselves and alerted the same police officers who attended Sunday’s robbery.

After that incident, the police had urged the 84-year-old to call them if she ever needed anything and provided their telephone numbers.

The K9 unit and highway patrol unit quickly responded.

They spotted three men walking along Hutchinson Road, carrying bulky luggage.

When stopped and searched, one fled but was later caught in Golf Road by Warrant Officer Reno Dayaram of the K9 unit with the help of police dog Simba.

All three, aged 20, 22 and 24, were arrested.

They are from the Masu­kwane informal settlement near East Street. One of the men is currently out on parole for housebreaking, said Jeevan.

When The Witness arrived on the scene, the robbers were handcuffed in the back of a police vehicle. One of them was dusty and dishevelled after his run-in with the police dog.

Inside the house, overturned furniture and strewn belongings testified to the men’s actions. Signs of a struggle were evident and a pair of glasses with buckled rims on a table bore testament to the violence of the attack. The lenses lay on the floor some feet away.

The robbers’ loot included a flat-screen TV, DVD player, video machine, amplifier, camera, jewellery and cash.

Police believe the men may be linked to several other house robberies in and around the city.

The elderly woman’s daughter, who would only be identified as Debbie, said her mother had been accosted in her back garden, taken to the front and thrown on the patio.

She was then carried to her bedroom and left there while they ransacked the house. She had the presence of mind to lock the bedroom door, but the robbers later kicked it open.

Debbie said her mother was very traumatised.

“She seems disoriented and doesn’t want to be in the house. She keeps looking over her shoulder and walking outside, looking up and down the road.”

She said the house was put on the market after Sunday’s attack and that her mother would move to live near her on the South Coast.

POLICE are planning to hold an identity parade for the arrested men, but have made an impassioned plea to those who have been robbed recently to come forward.

Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said police held three identity

parades in the last month, but no victim had arrived to identify the suspects. “How will we get convictions if people do not come and identify the criminals? We need to be able to link them to other cases.” Anyone with information that may assist in the investigation should contact Captain Piet van Zanten at 079 500 0592.

A UKZN student who lives close to where yesterday’s robbery occurred said she had heard cries as she was leaving for lectures, but thought it was children playing nearby.

She was shaken to hear of what had occurred and said her digs had been broken into four times recently. On one occasion, her kitchen door was broken open, with the thieves using a garden fork.

“Three of the other students have left the digs. My bursary money does not allow me to move around. Even my parents are very worried.”

In one incident, men had knocked on their door and tried to force their way in. In another, they had stolen money, a bank card and ID through an open window while the students watched helplessly. They activated the alarm, but the men fled.

She said yesterday’s elderly victim had approached her recently and said they should “look out for each other”.

“She knew something would happen. Why else would she

approach me?”

Crime tips for the elderly sidebar

Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said elderly people living alone should take every precaution available. She hailed the neighbour for checking on the elderly woman and urged the community to do likewise. “Visit the elderly and assist them in any way you can.”

She appealed to elderly people to report any suspicious activity and to install alarms and carry panic buttons on themselves at all times. “Do not open up for anyone if you don’t know them.”

Walking past the scene yesterday, a 74-year-old woman was surprised to see the commotion. She had walked alone all the way from Adams Road in Hayfields on her daily two-and-a-half-hour walk. She asked not to be named but said she had strolled past the arrest of the suspects in Golf Road from the Seminary shooting. Asked if she was not nervous to walk out on her own, she said, “I greet everyone I pass, and that helps.” She also carries nothing but a hanky with her.

Alarm man

Calvin Spearman, of Peter’s Security, arrived to hand in a quote to repair the elderly woman’s alarm, which was defective. After Sunday’s attack, she had asked for quotes to repair the alarm. Spearman said he was shocked when he drove up and saw the police cars outside the woman’s home. “My heart dropped.” He said the company had then offered to install an alarm for free, but the woman declined, saying she would not spend a night there again.

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