August 07 2006 at 05:00AM
It is a wonder that Wartburg farmer and father-of-three Dave Williams, 41, is alive today, and he will live the rest of his life with a bullet in his chest as a constant reminder of his close shave with death.
Williams was shot and wounded by one of three men who ambushed him on the farm where he lives at Windy Hill in the Wartburg district during an apparent robbery attempt on Friday afternoon.
He believed that the gunmen targeted him on Friday because he had been en route to supervise the payment of workers' wages at the time, and they believed he had money on him.
"They were misinformed because I don't ever keep any money on me," Williams said on Sunday.
'The guy who shot me had a pistol'
Like most farm workers in the district, they are paid out at a pay point in the village by members of a security company who handle all the cash involved.
Williams, a sugar cane harvesting contractor, was on his way to the pay point when the men - two of whom had guns - emerged from the sugar cane and stepped into the road.
"The guy who shot me had a pistol. The other one had something like an AK-47, but he couldn't get it to shoot.
"The chap with the pistol stepped out and pointed the gun right at me and I just went for him with the truck. I wasn't going to stop for anything. Then he shot me."
Williams said the bullet went through the windscreen, passed through the sun visor and into his chest, lodging just behind the breast bone. Surgeons later decided it was too risky to try to remove the bullet.
'I felt it hitting me and it burnt like anything'
"I immediately realised I had been shot. I felt it hitting me and it burnt like anything."
A second shot was fired through the left passenger door but missed him.
Williams continued driving and the attackers chased after him, still firing shots.
"I immediately phoned my wife and told her I'd been shot and warned her to lock up and put on the alarm. Then I called the security company and told them to speed up to the house and take care of my wife."
Williams drove straight to the local doctor's surgery, stopping only when he met another local farmer, who followed him in case he was unable to continue driving himself. "By that time the blood was flowing out of me and I wasn't sure how bad it was," he said.
"When I was seen by the surgeon (at Pietermaritzburg's Medi-Clinic), he kept on saying what a miracle it was and how lucky I was to be alive. He said I must have had God on my side. I am extremely grateful to the Lord for sparing my life as I have a young family to care for," said Williams.
He said he and his family would not give up their country life in the wake of the shooting. "We can't stop living because of something like this. I love the country, I love this place and I'm staying."
Williams added that the Wartburg community had rallied around to support him.
"It's an absolute privilege to be part of such a district."
Farm manager Werner Scharlach, 37, was shot dead in a shed on the same farm in November 1996, and farmer Eckhard Wittig, who co-owns the farm, was shot and wounded in his shoulder when he encountered the killers driving Scharlach's stolen bakkie.
By Sunday afternoon no arrests had been made in connection with Friday's incident.
This article was originally published on page 4 of The Mercury on August 07, 2006