Manager protects teens during game reserve robbery

2017-02-27 13:46
Ma Tala Tala Wildlife Reserve (Supplied)

Ma Tala Tala Wildlife Reserve (Supplied)

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Pretoria – During a robbery at a game reserve just outside Pretoria over the weekend, a manager made sure a group of teenage schoolchildren were safe.

That’s why he gave five robbers who held him and four teenage girls at gunpoint on Saturday morning everything they asked for – and for good measure, helped them with a car’s immobiliser.

"He kept his wits about him," lodge owner Martin te Groen said.

When the robbers set off the alarm of a car they wanted to steal, the lodge manager helped deactivate it so they could get away, Te Groen told Netwerk24 on Sunday.

Sixty children between the ages of 14 and 17, from Grahamstown, along with parents and teachers, were staying at the Ma Tala Tala game reserve near Cullinan at the weekend.

They are taking part in the SA schools rowing championships at Roodeplaat Dam.

Extra security brought in

"We just wanted to give them a nice bushveld experience. We intentionally don’t keep guns or much cash on the premises, so that we don’t become a target. Thank heavens no one was injured," a shocked Te Groen said.

Despite three security gates, guards and an ever-vigilant farming community, the five robbers broke down the main house’s door at 04:30 on Saturday. They confronted the manager. There were four schoolgirls in one of the sleeping quarters in the house.

"The attackers aimed their guns at the girls and one held a pistol to the manager’s head. They obviously knew there were children with cellphones and iPads," Te Groen said.

The robbers took electronic devices, including a TV set, and R1 000 in cash and loaded it into the car. They locked the manager and the girls in a room.

So it took a while for them to raise the alarm.

"The police and the community were called in to help. Everyone responded immediately. We also arranged for trauma counsellors for the children.

"People patrolled the area the entire weekend. Extra armed guards have also been brought in to ensure the children’s safety until the end of the championships."

Read more on:    pretoria  |  crime

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