Thursday, 7 February 2008

Robbers shoot top student in spine

Worried: Wounded matriculant Razelle Botha is watched over by her mother, Cobie, and boyfriend Stefan Juhnke at the Pretoria East Hospital. Photo: Phil Magakoe, Pretoria News

Graeme Hosken

February 06 2008 at 07:06AM

A Pretoria student's dream of being a doctor lies in tatters this morning after a gang of armed robbers shot her in the spine during an armed robbery.

Razelle Botha (18), who obtained eight distinctions in matric last year, is in a serious condition in Pretoria East Hospital.

The teenager, who matriculated from Hoerskool Waterkloof with a 91 percent aggregate, was shot in the back while pleading for her life on Monday night.

Razelle, who was in her room when she was shot, was due to fly to Cape Town on Tuesday to meet up with her boyfriend Stefan Juhnke before the two flew to France for four months where she would au pair for a family in Paris.

'I could see the hatred in his eyes and knew he was going to kill me'

The two had met while they were on a leadership course in the US, sponsored by their schools.

Razelle had recently been accepted at the University of Pretoria's medical school and was waiting to hear from Calgary University in Canada as to whether she had been accepted at their pre-med school as well.

She and her father, Professor Willem Botha (63), who was shot in the leg during the attack, had just returned to their Moreleta Park home after buying pizza for supper when they surprised the robbers.

Professor Botha, who is a geophysicist consultant at Geotech Airborne and Exarro in Midrand, is founder of the geophysics department at the University of Pretoria.

It is believed that the gunmen, who were armed with an assortment of handguns and knives, broke into their Norval Street home through a window at the back of the house.

'What I have done to be shot? Why did they want to hurt me?'

With an assortment of tubes running from her body to various monitoring machines, Razelle, spoke from her bed in the hospital's intensive care unit, telling of the terror of how she pleaded for her life during the attack.

"I heard dad screaming and then other voices. I did not know what was happening and became worried. Then two gunmen burst into my room, screaming at me to lie down.

"Realising the danger I was in, I calmed them down promising to give them whatever they wanted.

"I pleaded with them not to hurt me. I told them they could have whatever they wanted. I tried to give them stuff but they told me to shut up.

"I did not know what was happening. I heard the men run out, screams and then gunshots and then people running into my room."

It was this point that at point-blank range, the gunmen pumped two bullets into her, one of them striking her spine the other hitting her in the arm.

Razelle collapsed, losing all feeling in her lower body. "I screamed for help as blood splattered across my bed and walls. I kept on calling my dad. I could not hear him. I thought he was dead," she said while describing the terror of seeing her blood.

"I knew I was shot but I could not feel anything. I could not move. I was so scared. I thought I was dying. I cried and cried. I do not want to die."

Her father, unable to walk, dragged himself to his critically injured daughter and held her hand to comfort her while screaming for help.

"I kept on telling her she was going to be all right. I knew she was in trouble but I could not tell her that. I was so scared that she was going to die," the father said.

Willem, who is recovering in a bed less than 50m from his daughter, was shot when he grabbed his gun from his bedside table as one of the attackers lunged at him.

"It was either him or me. I could see the hatred in his eyes and knew he was going to kill me. I knew that if I did nothing I would be killed," he said.

The bullet struck his right leg narrowly missing his femur.

Both said they could not understand why their attackers shot them. "What did I do to them? What I have done to be shot? Why did they want to hurt me?" cried Razelle.

Razelle's mother Cobie, comforted by friends at the hospital, said she was terrified.

"She is my only child. I cannot lose her. God I am so scared of losing her," she said.

Juhnke on Tuesday stood by his girlfriend bed stroking her cheek whispering how much he loved her. "You are my everything. I love you. I will never leave you."

Police, who are investigating charges of armed robbery and attempted murder, have yet to arrest the attackers who escaped with a camera and a laptop computer.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on February 06, 2008

Source:IOL
http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=15&art_id=vn20080206060408167C560581

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