15/04/2007 23:13 - (SA)
Borrie la Grange, Beeld
Krugersdorp - A 13-year-old West Rand girl may lose her right leg after robbers shot her and a friend and stabbed another teen in the face with a broken bottle - just for a cellphone.
The girl, Cherish Köhne, was shot in both legs.
Her friend Phillip van der Linde, 15, also was shot twice.
They underwent operations on Sunday to repair the worst of the damage inflicted by the bullets.
Mark Carstens, also 15, had to have more than 10 stitches in his face and is badly traumatised. He's recovering at home.
The three were sitting with friends on the grass pavement outside the home of Billow Erasmus, in Impala Road, Mindalore, Krugersdorp, about 20:30 on Saturday night.
Bullet through artery
Mark said on Sunday: "We were chatting when four men approached. They wanted a cellphone.
"The next moment, someone had tripped me up and hit me, and they shot Cherish and Phillip.
Erasmus heard shots, and shouted to the children to lie down.
Erasmus said: "Cherish couldn't get up. They shot her again, while I fell flat next to her."
One of the bullets ripped through the artery in Cherish's right thigh and the other went through her left thigh.
Philip was hit in the chest and the knee.
His father, also Phillip, said his son was just getting up when he felt a pistol against his head.
"If he had not bent down to get his cellphone, they would have shot him in the head."
While the robbers were running away with Phillip's cellphone, they came across another group of teenagers in Valley Street. They charged at them, firing seven bullets in the process.
A neighbour, Mary Roets, said one of the boys had jumped from his bike and fallen flat on the ground, narrowly escaping a bullet in the head. The robbers also missed hitting his two friends.
Had to have second operation
Shortly afterwards, the police arrived and began to search for the gang with a helicopter.
Cherish, Phillip and Mark are all pupils at Bastion High School.
According to Cliff Matthee, Cherish's stepfather, doctors at Leratong Hospital said the chance of recovery for her right leg was less than 50%.
She underwent a second operation on Sunday afternoon to remove blood clots from the arteries in her leg.
Matthee said: "They went berserk. Why were they shooting at innocent children?
"What kind of world are we living in when your child survives (an attack), goes back to school and says to friends, 'Check my bullet wounds'?"
Erasmus said that on his way home in his tow truck, he'd seen the gang shortly beforehand, drinking beer on the street corner.
Thankful son is alive
Shocked neighbours had gathered outside the Erasmus house, while Cherish and Philip were in ICU units at Leratong and Johannesburg hospitals.
Phillip's dad said: "Why didn't they just take the cellphone and be done with it?
"Naturally, one is shocked, but you also get hardened to all the crime. I'm just thankful my child is alive."
Police spokesperson Simphiwe Ndlovu confirmed the shooting in Impala Street and said Krugersdorp police were trying to track down the robbers.