Bludgeoned with a hammer that broke from the force of the attacks, and his wife bound and tied before being assaulted, an Ashburton pensioner is fighting for his life in hospital after a mid-morning attack at their farm on Tuesday morning — the third this month.
Residents are up in arms and have vowed to take the law into their own hands after a series of house break-ins in the area since March.
“We need to set an example. If we find these people we are going to sort them out, hang them on the railway line for justice … or we too are going to use a five-pound hammer on them,” said an irate community member.
On Tuesday morning 63-year-old artist Ockert Kruger and his wife, Debbie (60), of Northview Road, Ashburton, alerted their security company to a possible break-in on their property at 3 am. Upon arrival, the security company searched and patrolled the area but found no one.
At around 9 am that same morning, Ockert went into the garden to see what damage had been caused to the fence when five men went into the house and attacked his wife.
A family friend said: “The men were lying in wait on the property for the opportune moment to pounce on the owners. They even took the cushions from the patio and sat on them in garden, waiting and watching. They got into the house and confronted Debbie, who was working on her laptop.
“They dragged her to her room where they tied her hands and legs, assaulted and kicked her. They then threw her on the bed and piled blankets on top of her. She thought she was going to be raped.
“Ockert heard her screaming and ran into the house and the men pounced on him. They stabbed him in his hand, hit him with a hammer so forcefully that the hammer broke. He is in a serious condition in ICU. We will be amazed if he makes it.”
Debbie, who was too traumatised to speak, was then further assaulted until she revealed where the safe was. The robbers made off with a flat-screen television, six pairs of running shoes, jewellery and cash.
“Debbie was tied up and managed to roll off the bed and drag herself to the panic button, which she somehow managed to push with her nose,” said the friend.
He said while the security company responded timeously, police took more than an hour to get there. “They were just not interested. It seemed like we were a bother to them. It was only when we started complaining that they started taking us seriously. This is the fourth incident at this place. The other three times, they stole our vehicles and some things in the garden. Clearly they were watching this home,” said the family friend.
In another incident on Monday engineer Ravi Ronny from Smith Road, Ashburton, had his property broken into for the second time this month. On July 11, the robbers got into his home while they were asleep on the upper level of their double-storey home and made off with flat-screen televisions, laptops and other electronic devices.
On Monday night, Ronny said, the robbers returned but this time tried to break into their gardener’s house on the premises. “They cut the fence and got onto our property. They went to the gardener’s house and broke down the door and tried to attack them. Luckily he managed to fend them off and they eventually ran away.”