Moments before a 33-year-old Malvern, Johannesburg, mother was hit in the head by a stray bullet, she and her seven-year-old daughter were sitting preparing for a school spelling test.
Karina van der Westhuizen (33) had just told her little girl to hop into bed and was turning around to talk to her fiancé, Jean-Pierre le Roux (38), when she saw blood on her head and cheek.
Karina, who miraculously survived the freak incident, revealed on Friday, just days after the incident, that she didn’t immediately realise what had struck her.
The incident happened around 20:23 on Tuesday.
“I had just told my little girl to go get into bed and that I’d come kiss her goodnight. When JP and I started talking, I felt something run down my forehead and cheek. I wondered why my head was suddenly aching like that.”
She found an object stuck in her thick, long hair and identified it as a stray bullet that had come through the roof.
“I thought a light bulb in the ceiling exploded, but when I looked up the light was still on.”
At that point she noticed the hole in the ceiling.
Karina, Jean-Pierre and her daughter stay in a garden flat on the premises where her dad and sister’s family live. The flat is a converted garage with an iron roof.
“I shouted to JP to go call my dad. He was so shocked, he just grabbed clothes and stuff to get to the hospital. ”
She and her dad drove to the emergency room of the Life Bedford Gardens hospital.
“I could feel there wasn’t a hole in my head, it was more like a cut. But we went to hospital immediately because I was bleeding so much.”
Karina says the nursing staff were shocked by what had happened.
“They couldn’t believe I was okay. I’d walked in without support.”
Karina received two staple stitches to her head and was discharged the same evening. In the meantime Jean-Pierre reported the incident to the police. The next day Karina went to make her statement at the police station.
“It’s quite a rough area. After sports matches we’ve had people in the area firing shots into the air when their team’s won. JP was also told of a hijacking in the area on the night . . . But I never imagined a bullet coming through the roof. Who thinks something like this will happen to them?
She says the truth hasn’t sunk in yet.
“Yesterday I was very quiet . . . I realised it was a miracle [I survived]. Moments before my little girl was standing in front of me at the bed. It’s God’s mercy.”
Captain Johan Jordaan of the Cleveland police station confirmed a case of attempted murder was being investigated. He couldn’t find any report of an attempted hijacking in the area.
“Our investigating officer is looking into the case. The projectile was sent for forensic analysis in case we can pick up something from our system or if any incident is reported in future.”