Monday, 9 July 2007

We came home from Oz to our worst nightmare

Published:Jul 08, 2007

I write in a state of utter sadness. After reading “Beefed up police stations turning crime fight around” (July 1), I was compelled to respond.

On June 22, the worst nightmare became reality.

I was at work at 1pm when the phone rang. I saw it was my home number, “the wife”, and tapped “silent” since I was in mid-conversation.

It started ringing again and again I pressed “silent”, planning to call at the end of the conversation, in two minutes.

The third time I excused myself and answered the call.

On the other end of the line was the rasping voice of my wife: “I have been shot at home and am bleeding badly, please help!”

This was 40km away.

I ran past reception and shouted for them to phone the police while I got in my car and raced home.

I was greeted by a sight which will haunt me for years to come ...

We had returned in May from Australia, after I completed a 16-month project in New South Wales.

We had returned to evaluate our options and decide whether to stay in South Africa or not.

It can’t be as bad as they say, we thought.

My almost four-year-old son and almost two-year-old daughter were settling in nicely.

We had spent some money on the house we had bought just prior to leaving, and built a prefab wall around the perimeter of the stand in Inchanga, not 200m from the Comrades route. This was to improve security a little, but this was a safe area.

We were looking forward to settling into the new home after an extended period of travelling. After all, we weren’t the same as all the others South Africans in Oz — we wanted to stay.

That day, my wife had run some errands and collected my son from school .

As always, she clicked the button and the gate slid open, and she drove into the yard, with the kids taking an afternoon nap in the car — peace.

As she pulled up next to the house and looked towards the door, she saw a guy climbing out of the window and another standing in the house.

He said, “Hello, we are taking some stuff,” and stood there while the other started to climb out.

She realised this was a problem and reversed the car . She reached the T in the drive-way and as she looked up she saw the first man round the corner of the house and raise a gun. She heard a shot. The window burst and she kept going. Another shot, and her arm flew off the wheel.

The car slewed to the side, out of control, and stopped 15m from the gunman.

She felt a burning sensation in her shoulder and arm and the gushing of blood down her side.

A man appeared, grabbed her by the throat and shouted and swore at her for trying to leave.

My son was still sleeping in the back of the car, but the little girl watched as the madman shook her mom around and poked a gun in her face.

He demanded and took car keys, money and cellphone and, with a final insult, ran away, leaving a shocked and severely bleeding 50kg woman to her own fate.

She managed to retrieve the house keys from the car and staggered into the house to call me, while I was pressing the “silent” button on my phone — something I will never do again.

She staggered back to the car and tried to unbuckle my frantic daughter from the car seat, but was losing strength.

She left her there and staggered into the road to call for help.

I arrived 20 minutes later to find her sitting in the car, bleeding terribly.

Since the services were on strike, there was no ambulance in attendance.

I took her to the nearest casualty ward.

She had surgery the next morning — four hours to insert a plate to gather the badly fractured pieces of the upper right arm and to remove the bullet from under the skin in the front of her chest.

It has been a blur since then. Fear, confusion, children not understanding, pain — why did they shoot her?

So, I sit here alone in my home, alone because I cannot bear leaving my people in this house while I leave — for any reason.

I read your article and think that it is utter bull, since I have not once, not even from the police themselves, had any indication that there is a possibility of catching these beasts.

This after good fingerprints were lifted and the bullet was recovered (from the chest of my wife).

Sadly, with this, we have been pushed to leave our beloved, hated South Africa .

We join the ranks of leavers — an engineer and a nurse, who yearn to live in and contribute to the country of their birth, a country that does not want them.

Today I watched as one of the many police vehicles you speak of was in a shopping-area parking lot being loaded full of civilians and shopping bags.

I guess that one was off duty.

— Ex-South African, Inchanga

Source: The Times

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