January 23 2007 at 06:26AM
A Pretoria family was bound and gagged by thugs posing as police officers and endured more than an hour of terror as the gunmen ransacked their luxury home on a smallholding east of the city.
The attackers, who were armed with an assortment of weapons including rifles, attacked the Van Rensburg family as they were preparing for bed on Saturday night at their Willow Glen home.
Ringing a doorbell, the gunmen persuaded Christo van Rensburg, chairperson of the Kitty Hawk Flying Club, to allow them into his house.
As the men, three of whom were apparently wearing police uniforms, entered, they overpowered Van Rensburg, hitting him on the side of the face with a rifle butt before forcing him into his office.
'They began threatening to rape Liana and my daughter and I screamed at them to shoot me instead'
Van Rensburg works from home where he runs a mechanical trucking business, USEC.
Running into the kitchen, two of the men grabbed his wife Liana before attacking their 14-year-old daughter, who the couple asked not to be named.
Dragging them into Van Rensburg's office the gunmen threatened to kill them if they did not reveal the whereabouts of the safe.
The gunmen then pushed and pulled the terrified family into the main bedroom where they pulled a plastic Checkers bag over Liana's head, wrapping her in a duvet and trying to throttle her.
Van Rensburg said he began screaming at the men, pleading with them to leave his wife and daughter alone.
"They began threatening to rape Liana and my daughter and I screamed at them to shoot me instead. I pleaded with them to leave them alone," he said.
Releasing Liana from the duvet, one of the thugs grabbed Van Rensburg by the back of the head and shoved a gun into his mouth, threatening to shoot him.
"All I can see every time I close my eyes is the gun being shoved into my mouth and the man's eyes.
"They were dead. There was nothing in them," he said while describing the ordeal.
Liana, who said she was convinced the gunmen were going to kill them, said the men grabbed their daughter before forcing them to open the safe.
Pulling them into the pantry and tying them up with cable ties, the robbers fled with R18 000 in cash, cameras, binoculars, cellphones and car keys.
Van Rensburg managed to get hold of a knife and cut his wife's bonds and she freed him and their daughter.
He then smashed open the pantry window before radioing the Willow Glen Emergency Radio Network for help.
A visibly traumatised Liana said she thought they were going to die.
"I could hear them hitting Christo as they tried to suffocate me and thought that we were going to die. I kept on praying.
"I did not know what else to do," she said.
Provincial police spokesperson Director Govindsamy Mariemuthoo confirmed the attack, saying a case of house robbery had been opened and was being investigated.
He appealed for anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of the robbers to contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111.
This article was originally published on page 3 of Pretoria News on January 23, 2007