17/06/2007 23:25 - (SA)
Christel Raubenheimer, Beeld
Pretoria - A 12-year-old Pretoria boy, Neil Brenkman, has been hailed a hero after sneaking his dad's 9mm pistol to him during a robbery at their home in Amandasig on Saturday night.
One of the gang of robbers was killed in the ensuing gunfight. The others fled.
The robbers had forced Neil's parents, Nick and Petro, as well as visitors Alice and Jack D'Almeida onto a veranda at about 22:30.
However, Neil managed to get away and made a beeline for the safe in which Nick kept his 9-mil.
When one of the robbers came in to herd him onto the veranda as well, Neil hid the weapon in his trousers, walked up to his dad and sneaked the firearm to him.
One of the robbers saw this and then all hell broke loose.
Shots were traded between the robbers and Nick, who kept on firing until his pistol jammed.
"It was just one helluva racket. You don't know who is shooting and who's down.
"You shoot, because you don't know if your wife and child have been killed," 54-year-old Brenkman said.
"I knew I had to do something, so I went to fetch the weapon," said Neil.
I didn't really think - just that I should help."
"My nerves are shot. I don't think I'm a hero," Neil added.
A friend who was visiting him, hid in another room with Neil's sickly grandmother and a nurse.
Petro, 48, had asked the robbers earlier to see if her 84-year-old mother was OK.
Instead, one of them threatened to kill the elderly woman.
Petro had, during the gunfight, at one stage pushed her husband out of harm's way.
"I thought if someone must die, let it be me. Neil wouldn't survive without his dad.
"I kept praying. Neil was the hero of the day. If it weren't for him, we'd all be dead," Petro said.
One of the robbers fell into a fish pond during the scuffle, but kept shooting.
Petro was hit in the ankle and her husband was shot in the hand. Alice D'Almeida tore a ligament when one of the robbers gave her a shove.
The body of one of the robbers was found outside the house. He'd been shot several times.