Durban - "You can shoot me, but you're not going to rape me," was the thought that flashed through a woman's mind as she thumped an aggressive robber, before diving for her panic button.
This determined action by Adri Keyser, 40, helped to trap three men suspected of at least 10 robberies and the gang rape of three young women in Pennington, on the Kwa-Zulu-Natal South Coast a fortnight ago.
Superintendent Zandra Hechter said the early-morning armed robbery at the Keysers' home at Umtentweni near Port Shepstone on Saturday was being linked to 10 beach and home robberies along the South Coast in December.
This included the two-hour ordeal of a group of young people relaxing at a holiday home in Pennington.
One robber 'really aggressive'
The gang took over their braai, and took turns in raping three young women.
The same group are thought to have robbed a couple from Gauteng in a nearby house, indecently assaulting the woman.
Adri said on Wednesday: "One of the three robbers was really aggressive.
"He kept grabbing my face and saying 'look at my face, I'm going to rape you and then kill you'.
"I could see the devil in his eyes."
The Keysers were surprised in their bed about 03:30 after the robbers apparently drugged the family's three dogs.
They used a ladder they had brought with them to gain access through an upstairs window.
Adri and her husband, Kobus, 44, were forced at gunpoint into the room of their son, Willie, 18, where some friends were sleeping over.
Kobus was beaten with a cricket bat when he did not want to hand over the keys to the safe.
The robbers got hold of two firearms, helped themselves to money and jewellery, and began to ransack the house for more money.
At one stage, Adri offered them Krugerrands, but the aggressive robber did not want the "strange money".
It was then that he threatened her and tried to force her to a chair.
"I knew he wasn't just talking, he was going to do it," she said.
With a supreme effort she pushed him off and dived for the panic button.
The robbers fled, but were arrested at a roadblock a few hours later, after members of the dog unit received a tip-off that armed men were in a taxi headed for Oshabeni near Port Shepstone.
Out on bail
A search of the men's home apparently turned up loot estimated at R150 000.
Mtokozizi Mbambo, 29, Wonderboy Mchunu, 26, and Joseph Shilembe, 23, appeared in Port Shepstone magistrate's court on Monday.
Hechter said Shibembe was out on bail after an unsuccessful burglary attempt at Umtentweni.
He was arrested nearby, allegedly with tools to force an entry into a house.
Police are searching for a fourth suspect.