Shopkeeper lucky to be alive after robbery

2018-12-14 15:30
Robbers lock shopkeeper inside spaza shop and try to set him alight.

Robbers lock shopkeeper inside spaza shop and try to set him alight.

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Barely 72 hours after a Bangladeshi businessman, Sohed Uddin, was shot by robbers in Lincoln Meade, on Wednesday, Eritrean national, Daniel Tsakel escaped death when robbers tried to set him alight.

Tsakel was locked inside the Sacca informal settlement spaza shop in Mkondeni — where he worked — and then the men who seemingly shut him inside torched the container, before firing several shots into the container.

The move to barricade the 46-year-old shopkeeper inside before setting the container ablaze was calculated and intended to kill, his boss, Hnbiso Muri, said.

“He was inside sleeping and all of a sudden there was smoke inside. He got up and he was trying to get out, but the door was locked from the outside,” he told The Witness on Thursday.

“He was lucky that the neighbours there heard him screaming when he couldn’t get out, they came and broke the lock and tried to put the fire out,” he added.

Luckily, Tsakel managed to escape with only minor scratches to his arms and legs after being overwhelmed by smoke.

Speaking to The Witness on Thursday, Tsakel who has since fled Pietermaritzburg subsequent to the attack, said the incident happened at around 1 am.

“They doused a bread crate in petrol and then placed it in front of the door. I tried to open the door to get out, but it was locked from outside.

“They then started firing shots into the shop; luckily I was not hit. My head spun because I didn’t know what I had done wrong. They shouted for me to come outside,” he said.

Perplexed, Tsakel said his cries for help awoke his neighbours who eventually saved him from the fire and gun-wielding robbers.

In broken English, a shaken Tsakel, who had been employed as a shop assistant for two months said he thought he was going to die. “By the Grace of God, I survived. I was so scared ... I thought they were going to burn me inside the container. There was no way of getting out,” he said.

“It’s better to lose my job than my life. What if they come back to finish me? They know I was the only one sleeping inside the container,” he added.

Alexandra police station spokesperson Captain Kholeka Mhlongo said detectives viewed the case as one of attempted murder.

The would-be robbers, however, left empty-handed, said Mhlongo.

No arrests have been made yet.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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