Campers attacked with panga and picks

2010-11-02 23:28

Pretoria – A woman’s ear was nearly chopped off and her arm broken when she fought to protect her family from four men armed with a panga and pick handles.

While Jackie Coomber, 38, was wrestling with the attackers, her wife, 37-year-old Tessa de Villiers, covered their sons, Anton de Villiers and Martin Matthee, both aged 13, with her body to protect them and keep them calm.

The family from Brits were attacked while they were asleep in their tent at the Trans Magalies caravan park on Friday night.

Coomber’s right ear had to be reattached after the attack. Doctors also operated on her broken right arm to repair the nerves in her hand.

Some of her teeth were also knocked loose and her body is covered in bruises from all the beating she endured.

De Villiers said they took the boys to go fishing at the caravan park on Friday.

“I woke up at midnight when I heard the tent’s zip being opened.

Four men

“When I looked up, I saw four men in the tent. One of them had a panga and the other three had pick handles.”

The men went straight for Coomber. “They told us to be quiet in English,” Coomber said.

“I said they can take everything, but they started beating me while I was still lying on my back.

“I kicked at them and the only thing that kept going through my mind was that I had to protect my family.

“At least I managed to pay them back with a few nice kicks and a good beating. In the process, I even saved Tessa’s handbag,” Coomber said.

“When Jackie collapsed next to me and everything went quiet, I ran to get help,” De Villiers said.

The family struggled for three days to report the incident to the police.

Police refused report

De Villiers said a police official who was also camping there called the police, but they never showed up.

“Both the Brits police and the Hartbeespoort police refused to let me report the incident.

“At the Brits police station, a police official told me they don’t have any stationery, and that I can’t report the incident on behalf of Jackie - who was sedated at the time - anyway.

“I went to the Brits police station with a journalist from the local newspaper, the Brits Pos, on Monday. It was only then that they finally helped me.

“The police took Jackie’s statement that same afternoon,” De Villiers said.

Brigadier Mokhele Seboloki, station commander, earlier told Beeld they are investigating charges of armed robbery and attempted murder.

The attackers fled with three cellphones and De Villiers's car keys.