01/08/2008 09:21 - (SA)
Hilda Fourie, Beeld
Johannesburg - A window frame may have saved the life of John Tingle of Wingate Park in eastern Pretoria, during a robbery at his house.
"I should've been dead today," said Tingle, 48, after the robbery. "The weapon was pointed at me. If it had not been for the window frame, it would've hit me in the head."
Tingle, the son of former Zimbabwean Formula One racing driver Sam Tingle, was watching television in the living room with his son, Sam, 16, on Wednesday night at about 20:45 when they heard the dogs barking.
He went to settle them down. When Tingle came back to the living room, Sam heard something suspicious outside. "The next moment there was a bang in the office (next to the living room)," said Tingle.
When he walked into the office, his garden fork, which had been thrown through the window, came crashing to the floor in front of him.
"I grabbed the garden fork and tried to stop them (the robbers) from getting into the house through the broken window. I had to use my garden fork as a weapon against a man with a firearm."
One of the two robbers pointed a gun at him at the window.
Tingle and the robber were about a metre-and-a-half apart. A shot went off. The bullet hit the window frame and ricocheted back.
Robbers grabbed Tingle's laptop
Tingle walked backwards and still tried to keep them out of the house with the garden fork.
Meanwhile Sam and his mother Sheelagh, 50, who woke up from the noise, screamed so loudly that the neighbours heard them.
The robbers grabbed Tingle's laptop and fled.
"I knew if they came into the house, we were dead," said Tingle. "They came to kill us."
Sheelagh said if the robbers had come at 03:00 in the morning, the family would have been too late to keep them out of the house.
"It's terrible to say you are lucky to be alive after something like this, but we are lucky not to be dead," she said.
Tingle praised the fast reaction by the police and the Ubuntu security company.
They were on the scene moments after Sheelagh pressed the panic button.
Lyttelton police station commander Director André Wiese said charges of attempted murder and robbery were being investigated.