April 15 2006 at 02:48PM
By Tash Reddy
An elderly KwaZulu-Natal couple have been driven off the farm they have lived on all their lives after a brutal and prolonged attack that caused the wife to suffer a heart attack and left the husband with such severe burns to his feet that the soles came off.
Their assailants had forced him into the bath where they scalded him with boiling water. The soles of his feet were later found on the dining room table.
Koos van Wyk, 82, and his wife Tina, 57, were surprised by a gang of five armed men last Friday evening at their Gluckstadt game farm near Vryheid and endured hours of torture before the suspects looted their home and fled.
Severe internal injuries Van Wyk is recovering at the Bay Hospital in Richards Bay. His wounds are so severe that doctors could only clean and treat them. He will have to wait a further two to four weeks before doctors decide whether a skin graft is possible.
His wife Tina also sustained severe internal injuries, including to her heart, after she was assaulted, stepped on and repeatedly kicked around.
After suffering a heart attack, she has spent a week in the intensive care unit at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital.
The couple said they believed the criminals were motivated by hate and not greed. "If they wanted the money they would have taken it. It seems like they were not motivated by greed but by a need to be brutal and malicious.
"We hope that, if they are found, the law gives them the maximum penalty. We don't plan to go back to the farm. Our belongings will be kept in storage and we will be staying with family," they said.
'We will be staying with family'
Van Wyk's stepson Len van der Merwe said the family was incensed at the police's inability to find the culprits.
"I think it's pathetic. We've received no word from them after the attack," he said.
Van der Merwe said that he was still finding it difficult to accept the events of that fateful night. "They were watching television in the living room when my stepfather decided to take a bath. He had just got out when they heard the attackers break down the kitchen door and also saw them come inside through windows," he said.
"My mother yelled that they were being attacked and they ran to the bedroom but before they could close the door, the attackers got in. They hit my stepfather in the face with the butt of an AK-47 and then tied up both of them with rope. It was so tight it cut through their flesh," Van der Merwe said.
The attackers then took his mother into the living room and left her on the floor before proceeding to the bathroom with Van Wyk.
"They turned on the hot water and let it run. They used tape to gag him and put him into the boiling water. It severely burned his feet and buttocks.
"While they were busy with him, the two other guys went to my mother and told her they had killed him. They threatened to cut out her eyes if she didn't tell them where the safe keys were. They found only R250 and started ransacking the house," he said.
Meanwhile, one of the attackers grabbed the woman by her feet and started to drag her to the bedroom.
"I am sure he intended to rape her. He told her that he would make her feel like a 'special woman' that night but he was distracted and left her alone," said Van der Merwe.
"She was left in a hallway where all five men stepped on her breasts, legs and stomach.
"After that they loaded my parents' 4x4 bakkie and fled. My mother heard my stepdad groan in the bedroom and crawled to him by sliding along. She found a penknife on the floor and managed to free them. She then called a friend to call the police," he said.
Det Insp GM Zondo said that when he arrived at the couple's farm, their home was completely ransacked.
"They took the television, two sewing machines, money, three firearms, jewellery and the couple's vehicle. We have no leads and don't believe we will make arrests soon," Zondo said.
This article was originally published on page 3 of The Independent on Saturday on April 15, 2006