Sunday, 18 January 2009

Five-day reign of terror in Pretoria

Graeme Hosken

January 17 2009 at 03:04PM

Gangs of armed robbers have besieged a Pretoria suburb in a spate of attacks in which two people were shot, a domestic worker raped and dozens more terrorised.

The five-day reign of terror in Pierre van Ryneveld which began on Monday continued on Friday when business owner and mother of two, Marina Bosch, was shot in the leg.

Bosch was cashing up during the early hours of Friday morning when three gunmen stormed her home shooting her driver, Charles Smit, twice in the chest, critically injuring him before opening fire on her.

The gang escaped with cash, cellphones and stock.

'These guys shoot without asking any questions'

The attack on her Fury Street home came hours after a foiled attack on another woman in her home, and shortly after robbers stormed the home of Cynthia Uren, attacking and terrorising her and her children in a three-hour ordeal.

The attack in Uren's security complex home ended when she leapt from her car as the four gunmen raced off with her and household appliances.

"I was not going to let them take me. I was rather going to be shot than dragged off somewhere terrible and raped," she said.

The gunmen are believed to have returned hours later to attack another homeowner in the same complex where they held him and his family up, robbing them of jewellery, money and cellphones.

The gang, according to local community police forum members and police sources, is also believed to be responsible for the attack on Neels Kruger and his children during the early hours of Tuesday morning.

'There is simply nothing you can do'

The gunmen surprised Kruger's children as they were saying goodbye to friends.

Opening fire on Kruger's children when one of their friends spotted them, the gunmen chased their victims into their Spitfire Street home where they continued firing indiscriminately before fleeing empty-handed when the house alarm was sounded.

Security guards who spotted the robbers fleeing along the R21 were forced to abandon their chase when the gunmen shot out their vehicle's tyres.

Less than 24 hours before the attack on the Kruger family, two gunmen, who may be involved in the other attacks, attacked a domestic worker in her Collyer Avenue home during the early hours of Monday morning taking turns to repeatedly rape her at gunpoint.

Bosch's husband Christo, who managed to hide his children under blankets as the attackers rampaged through his house, said his family was terrified.

"These guys shoot without asking any questions. They don't care whether you live or die," he said describing how his wife had pleaded with them not to shoot her.

He said the gunmen had surprised them as Smit was leaving.

"As he opened the door they opened fire. They just began shooting," he said, adding that Smit was in a critical condition in Steve Biko Hospital, while his wife was recovering in Unitas Hospital.

He said the worst thing was the feeling of helplessness.

"There is simply nothing you can do," said Bosch.

Neels Kruger, describing how his children fled for their lives as the gunmen chased after them, said what had happened was frightening.

Recalling how the bullets narrowly missed hitting them, he said: "It is only by the grace of God that we are alive. These attacks happen so quickly and when you least expect them," he said.

Police spokesperson, Aveline Hardaker, said the police were determining whether the attacks were linked. "Police presence has been increased in the area," she said.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on January 17, 2009


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