Sunday, 18 March 2007

Brave girl saves parents

Harrowing times: Frans Furstenburg, seen with his wife Theana, fights for his life after being shot in the face while trying to fight off three armed men.
Photo: Liza van Deventer, Pretoria News

Graeme Hosken

March 16 2007 at 04:39AM

"Turn on your sirens. Turn on your sirens, my daddy's dying." These were the words of a quick-thinking 10-year-old Pretoria girl who telephoned police from under a duvet while her father fought for his life.

Frans Furstenburg, 38, was shot in the face on Wednesday night while trying to fight off three men armed with crowbars and a handgun.

The men, who fled from his Waverley home with nothing after hearing police sirens, attacked the family as Furstenburg walked inside his house.

He had just said good night to his insurance broker and was about to close the front door when two of the men grabbed him from behind, beating him over the head with crowbars.

'I do not know where I got my strength from'

Crying out a warning, Furstenburg dragged himself into his house while trying to fight off his two attackers.

His wife Theana, who was washing dishes, ran to his rescue and screamed at her daughter Thealize to hide.

Grabbing her cellphone, Thealize phoned the police, begging for help as she listened to her parents screaming in terror while fighting off their attackers.

A visibly shaken Theana, speaking from her husband's bedside in Eugene Marais Hospital, said she had been terrified. "I did not know what was happening. One minute I was washing dishes and the next I heard my husband screaming and shouting.

"As I ran into the passage I saw blood pouring from a gash on his head while he was trying to push the front door closed," she said.

'She apparently told them to turn on their sirens and come quickly'

Theana yelled at Thealize to hide as she tried also to push the door shut, trapping one of the attackers' hands in between the door and the wall. "I remember seeing the man pushing the gun into Frans's stomach and I prayed to God that he wouldn't shoot.

"I do not know where I got my strength from but I kept on shoving at the door and hitting the gunman's hand trying to force him to drop the gun," Theana said.

As she lashed out at the gunman's hand the attacker fired. The bullet struck Furstenburg in the jaw then ricocheted off and pierced his cheek.

Hearing the gunshot, Thealize phoned police, pleading for help and telling them to turn on their sirens as her father was dying.

Thealize's aunt, Zelda Britz, said her niece told her later that she had begged police to sound their sirens because she was scared her father was dying.

"She apparently told them to turn on their sirens and come quickly. If it had not been for those words I think they might all have been dead," she said.

Agreeing, Theana said she shuddered to think what would have happened if her daughter had not called the police for help.

"We owe our lives to our angel... She is our hero," she said.

Hospital spokesperson Amber Brown said Furstenburg was recovering in the intensive care unit where he was being kept sedated.

"He is in a stable condition and will undergo an operation to repair the damage the bullet caused to his jaw," she said. Parts of Furstenburg's jaw were shattered by the bullet.

Pretoria police spokesperson Inspector Lucas Sithole confirmed the incident, saying that three men attacked the family, shooting the husband in the face.

He said that a case of attempted murder was being investigated

No arrests have been made.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on March 16, 2007


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