A badly bruised Sheila Huart after the attack. (Beeld)
02/02/2009 09:30 - (SA)
Herman Scholtz, Beeld
Johannesburg - A 65-year-old woman, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, was viciously attacked when robbers couldn't remove her wedding ring from her finger.
Sheila Huart and her best friend, Petra Baxter, 62, were attacked by two armed robbers in their townhouse complex in Ontdekkers Park on the West Rand last Thursday.
Gavin Huart, Sheila's son, said the two women had gone shopping. "When they returned, they opened the security gate and drove through.
"They waited for the gate to close behind them before driving on, because they are both very security conscious," he said.
But two armed men slipped through and grabbed the remote control from Baxter's hand. She was sitting in the driver's seat.
"The panic button for the security system is also on the remote and the two women could do nothing to protect themselves," Gavin said.
The robbers demanded their jewellery, which they gave to them.
"My mother never wears her jewellery, but on this day she did because their outing was intended as a special occasion to spoil her a bit. The five rings she was wearing were worth about R120 000, but also carried a lot of sentimental value.
"They were all heirlooms that had been in the family for decades," he said.
Both robbers put their guns against Sheila's head and shouted: "Shut up or we'll kill you!"
She offered to remove the rings herself and give them to the robbers.
She removed four of the rings. Two of them she had designed herself years ago to feature family diamonds from Britain; the other two were heirlooms.
"She couldn't get her wedding ring off because she hadn't taken it off in the past 30 years," her son said.
"The robbers started biting her finger to get the ring off, but to no avail."
Then they started assaulting Sheila with their weapons.
"They first beat her in the face and over the head," Gavin said.
"Then they kicked her and pounded her with their fists - even when she was already lying on the ground crying.
Baxter wasn't attacked, but was forced to put the keys of her Toyota Corolla in the ignition. The robbers then fled in the car.
The car stalled not far from the security complex because it was equipped with a security system. It was later recovered.
The women's handbags that had been in the car were taken.
Sheila's wedding ring had to be cut off at the hospital because "by this time her fingers were swollen as big as golf balls".
"My mother's face was nearly beaten to a pulp. Her lips, teeth, jaw, brow, everything," said her son.
"The attack was an insult to my mother's humanity. Something like this breeds a total and consuming hatred in the victims of crime," Gavin added.
Police spokesperson Inspector Tebogo Kgomo could not confirm on Sunday whether any suspects had been arrested.