Thursday, 5 July 2007

Brave grandfather saves his family

In shock: A devastated Derick Taljaard describes how his father died while trying to fight off four armed men. Photo: Phill Magakoe, Pretoria News

July 05 2007 at 04:22AM

By Barry Bateman

Four-month-old Anlia will never have the opportunity to get to know and be loved by her grandfather, Albert Taljaard, 63, who died trying to save a family.

The trip to Pretoria from Cape Town was supposed to be a happy family reunion for Anlia's christening on Saturday, but ended in tragedy when four armed men attacked his son's home in Buffalo Creek, The Wilds.

A devastated Derick Taljaard described how his father pushed him into a room and tackled the robbers in an attempt to save the family. "My dad saved my life; he saved my children's lives," he said, nursing the arm he injured in the attack.

'I noticed a man with a cap peeking into the house'

Derick said he tried to put his son Zander, 3, to bed at about 8.30pm on Tuesday night, but the boy was restless so he took him to his wife Alda upstairs.

He said he had some work to complete but checked the house to ensure all the doors were locked, but noticed something at the dining room door. "I looked out of the window and I noticed a man with a cap peeking into the house at one of the other windows.

"At first I thought he might be one of our domestic worker's friends but then I saw three more men."

Derick said he hit the window hoping to scare the suspects away. "But that was not the case.

"I got my cellphone and returned to the door. A man was pointing a gun at my head. I saw out of the corner of my eye that the rest of the guys were running around the house.

'My dad pushed me into the study and I heard him hitting them'

"I dived under the table for cover and crawled away. I was shouting to let everyone in the house know something was happening."

Derick said his father came down the stairs and the two of them made their way to the front door but were confronted by the suspects. "We don't have weapons, but I wish we had.

"My dad pushed me into the study and I heard him hitting them. As I went up to the children I saw them shoot my dad.

"I ran up to the room and tried to lock the door but it wouldn't lock," he said.

He heard about five shots.

Alda said all that was going through her mind was: "Not my children, not my children."

The couple think the suspects fled when the family they had called arrived at their home.

Alda said she went downstairs to find Taljaard barely alive. "I could see by his moustache that he was breathing very shallowly.

"I felt his neck but couldn't feel anything. I put a blanket over him and we decided to take him to hospital. He died on the way," she said.

The suspects escaped with two laptops and other personal items.

Derick said he raised the security issue at a recent meeting. "There have been squatters living in this complex. There is no security here. I built here because of the security for my children, but where do we go to from here?" he asked.

Gerhard Swart, who serves on the complex's recently formed security committee, said that at the annual meeting residents were up in arms about the state of security.

Police spokesperson Captain Lucas Sithole said police were investigating a case of armed robbery and murder. No suspects have been arrested.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on July 05, 2007


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