Willie Botha fought back so ferociously that his attackers ended up in hospital.
He says he had gone to a pharmacy in Nelspruit on Tuesday to buy painkillers for his wife, Issie, 54. At about 15:00, he started walking back to his house, about 10km outside the city.
"I walked past an overgrown vlei near the Rob Ferreira hospital in Samora Machel Road when the three jumped me from out of the bushes. They tried to grab my cellphone and money from my pocket.
'Nobody pushes me around'
"But I'm a ninja and nobody pushes me around," he said.
When he was younger, Botha was a devoted student of martial arts.
"Back then I was trained by a Chinese instructor in Benoni and I obtained a seventh dan in karate. I also speak fluent Mandarin."
During the "flash fight", as he describes it, he punched one of the attackers so hard that his jaw was dislocated. Botha then kicked him between the legs for good measure.
Botha was able to get his hands on a piece of wood, which he used to teach the second would-be robber a lesson.
"The third guy started running when he saw his buddies getting a hiding, but a passerby caught him and gave him a proper hiding as well!"
Al three robbers were admitted to hospital. Botha says he isn't going to report the incident to the police.
"I've given them their punishment already. They've learned to leave the elderly and other people alone."
Until recently Botha had worked as a technician, but he lost his job when the business closed.
For the past few years he's been living on the Barberton road, about 10km outside Nelspruit, and has been walking for the past four years after his car was stolen during a robbery in Piet Retief.
"But somewhere out there is someone who likes me," he said. Shortly after the attack, someone phoned to offer him a job. He'll start working as a forester on Monday.
He refused to have his photograph taken by Beeld. "I've always hated having photos taken. I've only done it once - for my ID book," he said.