March 30 2007 at 04:39AM
Two metres away from where a man and his two sons lay facedown in the dirt, the woman they loved was being raped.
It was too much for the man.
He tore the fillings from his teeth as he struggled to bite through the laces that bound his hands, which had come from his son's shoes.
Then he lunged for one of the armed men who had ambushed, hijacked and assaulted his family.
'It is still so unreal to all of us'
The unlit veld near Dawn Park in Boksburg lit up with gunfire.
Screaming for his wife and sons, aged 18 and 12, to run, the man tried to lure his attackers away by running in the other direction, arms outstretched, "so they would aim for me and not hit my kids".
Blinded by blood streaming from a bullet graze above an eye and mad with worry, he ran into the Dawn Park police station.
There he was helped by members of the local Community Policing Forum (CPF), his "angels".
They drove with him to help find his family.
Back at the roadside, one of the sons stood in the road, flagging down cars, while the other son attended to his mother.
A passing motorist took them to the police station, where CPF members on duty ensured them that all the evidence had been properly collected.
Police say the man's bravery and the concerted efforts of the CPF led to the arrest of four men believed to belong to a 20-member gang responsible for a wave of violent crime in Ekurhuleni - including shooting at an 83-year-old man in Groeneweide.
Alleged gang members Tisetso Masilo, 26, Aubrey Mabe, 34, Thabiso Jeffrey Moloi, 33, and Rector Ndlangamandla, 38, were arrested within days of the attack on the Boksburg family.
They have appeared in the Vosloorus magistrate's court on charges of armed robbery and possession of unlicensed firearms. A charge of rape is to be added.
Speaking to The Star on Thursday, the Boksburg man said his family - who have not returned to the home where they were ambushed - was "completely shattered" by what had happened to them.
"It's amazing how your life can be so normal one moment... and then everything just goes so wrong in a matter of hours.
"It is still so unreal to all of us."
The family's March 15 nightmare started when they arrived home after picking the man up at the airport.
"We had driven through the gate when they surrounded us. It was so incredibly quick."
One of the gunmen aimed his pistol at the family and ordered them to keep their heads down. Half an hour later, they were in the veld and "everything just got so much worse".
"My wife and I have spoken very directly about what happened to her. She is suffering from a terrible rash because of the antiretroviral medication she is taking.
"She is terribly afraid that she may be ill... I think that, more than anything, I am so scared that none of us will ever get over what happened.
"It feels like there is a huge hole where my heart was and I don't know... I really don't know if I'll ever find what it was that I lost."
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on March 30, 2007