House set alight with family inside

Johannesburg - Attackers set a wooden house on fire on a farm near Carolina at the weekend, while a woman and her children were still inside. The armed attackers had tied the door with a piece of wire, trapping the victims inside.

The woman's parents were shot at when they rushed to their aid.

"They were bent on killing us. This had nothing to do with theft," said Cornelia de Wet, 32, from the farm Kwaggafontein, near Carolina.

She woke up to the smell of smoke at about 22:00 on Saturday night. She saw the wall and the curtain in her room were in flames.

The attackers had poured diesel on the house before setting it on fire.

Lost consciousness

De Wet tried in vain to wake two of her children, Cornelia, 11, and Joey, 2, who were sleeping on the double bed with her.

"Apparently the smoke made them lose consciousness."

She extinguished the burning curtain and tried to open the door, but couldn't, because it was tied with a piece of wire.

Her parents, Nelie, 62, and Jan de Wet, 65, live in the farmstead about 50m from her house. Her other daughter, Sarah, 8, was sleeping at the farmstead that night.

De Wet called her parents for help over the two-way radio, which had been installed barely two weeks prior to the attack.

"When they came out of the house, shots were fired at them from the dark."

The grandparents shot into the dark with a shotgun and a pistol in an attempt to chase away the attackers.

De Wet said they also shot at her when she leaned through the kitchen window to untie the wire around the latch of the door.

According to her, the shootout lasted for nearly two hours.

Attempts to contact the police in Carolina, about 12km from the farm, were initially fruitless because they didn't answer their phone.

She then phoned her brother, Jan de Wet jnr, who farms near Belfast.

Shots still flying

He rushed to the farm. "When I got there, the shots were still flying," he said. "I yelled at the attackers that I was going to kill them."

He, too, started firing in the direction of the attackers. The shooting then settled down.

De Wet jnr estimated that there were between 10 and 15 attackers.

"The attack was planned in great detail and they came prepared with enough ammunition."

The police picked up 9mm and shotgun shells as well as a few rounds near the two houses.

One of the rounds was of a strange calibre that is not known to the police.

The long grass hampered the search for evidence, but De Wet jnr did say they found footprints near the scene.

No-one was injured in the attack.
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