Saturday, 17 May 2008

SA 'at the mercy of barbarians'

15/05/2008 23:36 - (SA)

Hilda Fourie, Beeld

Pretoria - Prize-winning author André P Brink ranted on Thursday about the country's crime crisis after his nephew had been shot dead by robbers at the weekend.

"It's unacceptable that South Africa has been left at the mercy of barbarians," he said.

Adriaan Steenberg, 45, son of the deceased author Elsabé Steenberg (Brink's sister), was shot in the face in his bedroom in front of his wife, Leonie, 41, on Saturday morning.

They lived on a smallholding in Leeufontein in northeastern Pretoria.

The couple's three young children - 11, nine, and eight - had been sleeping when their father was shot.

Brink said from the Western Cape: "We must keep hoping at all times that someone will gain control because it doesn't seem as if the government can govern the country anymore."

'Someone in the house'

Leonie said on Thursday that they had gone to Centurion to fetch her father-in-law, Professor Dawie Steenberg, 68, who had come to visit them.

They went to bed about 02:30 on Saturday.

"I don't know what time it was, but my husband jumped up and said there was someone in the house," said Leonie.

The suspects gained access to the house through a window in the dining room.

"Adriaan told me to lie on the floor next to the bed. He also went to lie next to the bed.

"We heard footsteps on the stairs and my father-in-law shouting: 'Help, help!'

"Adriaan got up to press the panic button. He was only halfway upright when they shot him.

"I saw the flash and then Adriaan fell."

The robbers threatened Leonie with a firearm and ordered her to switch off the alarm, while saying: "We're going to kill you, we're going to kill."

Hit out with his cane

They took her to Dawie's room where they tied up her hands and undressed Dawie before tying up his hands, too. They only left Dawie's shirt on.

Leonie said: "One stayed in the room with us and two were outside. My father-in-law rolled on his back and shut the door with his feet to keep them out. He also hit them with his cane."

"He stopped after they threatened to kill him."

Leonie told the robbers they should take what they wanted and leave. She just wanted to get to her husband to help him.

When they took her out of her father-in-law's room, one of the robbers was standing outside with a gun against her nine-year-old daughter's head.

"She wanted to cry, but I calmed her and took her to her grandfather."

Couldn't feel a pulse

The robbers took Leonie through the house and stole money, cellphones and a laptop.

At one stage, they left her alone in the room with her husband.

"I felt for a pulse, but there was nothing. I wanted to do something for Adriaan, but I couldn't."

Then Leonie heard more shots outside, apparently fired by a security company, and the robbers fled.

"It was unnecessary to shoot him," Leonie said.

"He believed he was good to everyone and that no one would hurt us."


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