Robbers’ rampage

2010-03-03 00:00

A WOMAN was strangled to death at her home in Alexandra Road Extension, Bisley, yesterday in one of four house robberies in four suburbs within hours.

Khanyisa Mabhungane (39) and Mphume Hadebe (35) were in the house when they were approached just before midday, by two men who asked for water.

When the women went to fetch the water, the men followed them, forced them into the main bedroom, tied them with rope and gagged them with shirts.

While the men ransacked the house, Hadebe managed to free herself, and helped Mabhungane.

While Hadebe managed to escape, Mabhungane was overpowered at the door.

Hadebe ran into the road and received help from a passing taxi driver. When she arrived back at the scene with more taxi drivers to help, Mabhungane was lying seriously injured on the bathroom floor.

“The group of taxi drivers tried to apprehend the suspects,” confirmed Inspector Joey Jeevan of the South African Police Service midlands communication services.

“Unfortunately, the suspects made good their escape on foot through the houses.”

ER24 paramedics arrived at the scene and tried to resuscitate Mabhungane, but she died at the scene.

Jeevan said she sustained multiple open wounds to her hands — a sign that she had attempted to fight back — and there were strangulation marks around her neck.

Hadebe was not injured.

A neighbour said that one of the attackers had fled by jumping into a neighbour’s yard in Torrens Road, which runs parallel to Alexandra.

The suspects made off with two cellphones, one of which the police found on the property.

The home owner, Mabhungane’s uncle Justice Gqulu, was not at home at the time of the robbery.

“I just arrived to see this scene,” he said.

After the incident, the road was lined with police and emergency services vehicles. The gate was blocked with police tape, while detectives photographed and searched the area.

One attacker apparently left a pair of glasses in the main bedroom.

Mabhungane’s mother arrived at the scene shortly after the incident. Police officers and relatives were unable to comfort the woman, who wept uncontrollably. A relative gave her sugar water and helped her to contact other family members.

On the other side of the highway, at 11 am yesterday, a house in Dunsby Avenue, Lincoln Meade, was robbed by four men.

Agnes Nosindile Pina (41), a domestic worker, was shoved into the bathroom and held there while robbers used crowbars to pry open two safes.

They made off with the safes, which contained jewellery and a camera with a total value of R100 000, and R80 000 in cash.

Pina said she heard the garden worker — known to her only as Ashruf (20) — calling to her from outside.

When she opened the door she found four men on the premises, one holding a firearm aimed at Ashruf.

Home owner Raffick Kadar said no physical damage had been done to the house. He confirmed that while his wife was shaken to learn of the incident, she was “doing just fine”.

Jeevan said the garden worker could not be found. A green crowbar was found at the scene.

In A.P. Smith Road, Ashburton, another house was robbed yesterday. The home owner, Maria Mentzios (64), was called by her security company about an irregularity with her house alarm.

She went home to find nothing wrong and returned to work.

However, Jeevan said, when Mentzios returned to her house later, she was grabbed at the door by an intruder who ordered her to keep her eyes down.

The gang was an organised team who had severed the alarm wires professionally from the ceiling.

They gave the woman a drink of water, and told her: “We are not violent people, please just look down.”

They fled with jewellery and a television.

Jeevan confirmed that another green crowbar had been discovered at the scene.

In Hayfields, a man and a woman made off with goods including electronics, linen and furniture.

“They tried to get away in my car, but I think the anti-hijack must have kicked in,” said the home owner.

They made off in a silver Corsa.

This month has seen an increase in house robberies in Pietermaritzburg. It is believed that many of them are being conducted by a group of professional out-of-towners.

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