19/10/2007 07:24 - (SA)
Dries Liebenberg, Beeld
Durban - A heroic neighbour has saved a northern KwaZulu-Natal family from possible torture after six robbers burst into their home.
The man, whose name may not be mentioned because "his elderly mother would be worried to death about him", shot and killed one of the robbers and may have wounded another in a gunbattle at the home of Karel and Jenine du Plessis of the farm Vaalbank near Hlobane in the Vryheid district.
The man and his wife sped to their neighbour's farm after Jenine had phoned them on a cellphone that she'd hidden under her crying baby son, four-month-old Theuns.
Wearing security guard uniforms
A friend, Dominee Floris Vercuil, said when they heard the baby crying and noises in the background, they'd put two-and-two together.
Karel and Jenine were attacked in their rented home at about 20:00 after spending the day at the nearby Paris dam.
The robbers, who were wearing security guard uniforms and were armed with a shotgun, among other things, burst in through the kitchen door.
During the robbery Karel was tied up and had his ankle broken with the butt of the shotgun, while his baby son was slapped for crying, Vercuil said.
The robbers had plugged in an electric iron, presumably to torture the couple.
After the neighbour and his wife arrived at the Du Plessis' home, he crept closer in the dark to surprise the robbers.
Later collected their dead friend
When the robbers saw him, they fired a round of buckshot and he was wounded in his buttock and back.
Vercuil said there was an exchange of fire and a bullet got stuck in his pistol.
While he was prying it out with his nail, one of the robbers came out of the house.
The man shot and killed the robber a few metres from him.
The robbers fled after another exchange of gunfire, but they returned later to collect their dead friend once the Du Plessis couple and their neighbours had gone off to Hlobane to get help.
Both the vehicles owned by the Du Plessis couple were on the lawn in front of their house, piled high with the robbers' loot when the neighbour arrived.