January 22 2007 at 05:11AM
By Alex Eliseev and Nomusa Cembi
When 78-year-old Rodney King heard his son screaming in the driveway, he instinctively ran to his rescue - and paid for it with his life.
Brendon King had been wrestling with one of at least four robbers who had ambushed him at his home in Olivedale, north of Johannesburg.
His father, who was visiting his family from Zimbabwe, joined in the struggle and the pair forced the gang to flee empty-handed. But as they were fleeing, they shot wildly at the father and son.
'The family were in a state of shock'
The bullets missed Brendon, but Rodney wasn't so lucky. Two bullets hit him in the chest and he collapsed, dying at the scene.
According to neighbour Merle Wright, the robbers, using a crowbar, broke through the palisade fence that separates the Kings' home from the Little Jukskei River on Saturday evening.
Under the cover of night, the gang crept to the front of the house, past the tennis court and ambushed Rodney next to his car at about 8.30pm. They demanded his keys.
When paramedics from Netcare 911 arrived a short while after the shooting, an unstable situation prevented them from assisting Rodney.
"The scene was very unsafe and there were people with guns running in the road," Netcare spokesperson Nick Dollman said on Sunday. "It was believed the attackers were still on the premises."
'They don't want to say anything'
Back-up arrived soon, and police officers - assisted by security companies - secured the front entrance. But paramedics could do nothing to save Brendon.
"They found one man had been assaulted and another had been shot in the chest. This was a fatal injury and the man died at the scene," Dollman said.
"The family were in a state of shock and the paramedics stayed with them until a trauma counsellor arrived."
The family's security company posted a guard across the road after the incident.
The Star tried to speak to Brendon and his family but was told they weren't ready yet.
"Please leave them alone. They don't want to say anything," a woman told The Star.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Chris Wilken confirmed the details of the shooting and said about five shots had been fired.
Although security guards at the scene said a firearm had been recovered, Wilken denied this.
Wright, who is also the chairperson of the Olivedale Residents' Association, said the entire community was devastated by the incident.
"Why doesn't President Thabo Mbeki come and have tea with these people and see how they feel?" she asked.
Wright had just finished walking her dogs when the shots rang out next door. The bullets pierced through the fence and disappeared in her garden.
She said the police had not been able to find them.
Wright said that, to her knowledge, this was the first murder to have happened in the quiet street.
"We haven't had a violent crime in a long time. Petty break-ins, yes, but not this.
"I don't know what we are going to do in this country. Unless the government wants to change this, we won't be able to change it.
"If Mbeki doesn't believe there is so much crime, he needs to come here to see what the trauma is doing to these people," Wright said.
She said she would love to see Mbeki publicly announce that he would "personally hang" criminals who rape children or rob and kill people.
This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on January 22, 2007