Pensioner, 88, recounts how intruder hid under the bed and then attacked him with brick

2017-11-07 14:19
Ross Gower shows the brick used to hit him on the head during a house robbery in his home in a Howick retirement complex on Tuesday last week.

Ross Gower shows the brick used to hit him on the head during a house robbery in his home in a Howick retirement complex on Tuesday last week. (Ian Carbutt)

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Howick - Pretending to be unconscious after he was bashed on the head with a brick by an intruder at his home in a retirement complex last week may have saved the life of an 88-year-old Howick pensioner.

Ross Gower, who has lived at Elizabeth Gardens Retirement Cottages in Howick for the past four years, said he was left “traumatised but not broken” after being tied up, throttled and almost suffocated by an intruder in an ordeal that lasted two hours.

Gower said that on Tuesday at around 2.30pm he received a call from the security guard at the main gate telling him he had a visitor.

“I told the security guard I did not know that person and as I was about to tell him not to let that person in the call got cut off. I didn’t think much of it so I just left it,” he said.

Gower was in his bedroom packing for a trip to Johannesburg to visit his grandchildren when he heard sounds from his kitchen window.

“I unlocked the kitchen door and tried to open it but someone on the other side pulled the door shut again. This happened about three times,” Gower said.

He said he thought one of his friends was playing a joke on him and as he peeked through the window, he saw a figure walking away.

He went outside to see who it was, leaving his door unlocked, but did not find anyone outside.

Gower then went back inside and locked the door to continue packing for his trip.

“I dropped something between my bed and kist and went down on my knees to search under the bed.”

That’s when he saw a pair of takkies that looked like his and decided to pack them too.

“I tried to grab them but they seemed to be stuck. When I pulled again a man jumped out and grabbed me from behind. He was very fast and strong.”

Gower said the intruder strangled him until he almost passed out.

“He instructed me not to look at his face or he would kill me.”

He then tied Gower’s hands and his ankles with what Gower believes were pieces of his clothing and also blindfolded him.

Gower said the man had a very hoarse and deep voice and kept on telling him he wanted money or he would kill him.

“The funny thing is I was not panicking. I spoke to him calmly and slowly, trying my best not to agitate him.

“I asked him not to kill me as I had a family and grandchildren that I love. I asked him if he had a family and he told me that he had a child.”

The man took the cash, credit cards and other documents Gower had out on his coffee table and ransacked his entire home but still demanded more money. At one stage the man put a plastic bag over Gower’s head.

“I was terrified because I thought he would suffocate me or burn me to death but he later removed the plastic bag.”

He said the man later dragged him to the bathroom and threw him into the bathtub while the taps were running and went back to ransacking the house.

“He came back and I felt a hard blow on top of my head followed by another painful hefty blow. I think he hit me with a brick. I decided to pretend I was unconscious to make him stop. I relaxed my body and tilted my head to the side,” he said.

Gower said the man untied him and he heard him say he was leaving. “I heard the kitchen door open then close. I remained still for a while just to make sure he was really gone, then I went to seek help from my neighbours.”

Gower was taken to hospital where he was treated and discharged after a few hours with stitches to his head and another gash on his right arm.

“He could have killed me. I am just thankful he decided not to,” said Gower.

Gower has since changed all his locks and makes sure he locks his door no matter how close he is to his house. He also warned others to always take safety precautions no matter how safe their neighbourhood is.

John Hughes from the Howick Elizabeth Gardens Retirement Cottages said they were investigating the matter and have also since increased their security, especially at pedestrian entries as it had been confirmed that the suspect had entered and left the premises on foot.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim said they were investigating a case of house robbery and no one has been arrested yet.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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