Sunday, 2 August 2009

Bullets break silence after two hours of hell

August 01 2009 at 06:51AM

By Jacques Breytenbach

Two Pretoria men lived through two hours of hell before they were shot and critically injured in an armed robbery on their plot west of the city.

It was unclear which of the men sustained the most serious injuries, but paramedics confirmed one of the men had been shot three times in the abdomen and once in the right shoulder, and the other, once in the abdomen. The bullet hit the man's spine.

The ordeal started when Philip Nel and Christo Smit were woken at 4am on Thursday after hearing men outside their Elandsfontein home.

'I initially only heard six shots'
Nel and Smit, both in their mid-40s, realised robbers were trying to break in but decided to stay put.

After two fear-filled hours, one of the men thought it was safe to open the front door at about 6.15am.

Four gunmen opened fire as the homeowner opened the door, shooting him and his friend.

As Nel and Smit lay in their own blood, the robbers ransacked the house, taking a computer, a television, cellphones and money.

Before fleeing, the robbers dragged the seriously wounded Nel and Smit into the house and demanded the keys to one of their cars. The men then fled the scene.

'I could see that there was a struggle and a trail of blood'
The abandoned vehicle was found several plots away, police spokesperson Captain Dumisani Ndlazi said.

A gardener working at the house alerted neighbours and Nel and Smit were airlifted to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital.

Neighbour and friend, John Foulds, said he and his wife had heard shots from their house.

"I initially only heard six shots. Then a seventh shot went off and I had a feeling that something was wrong.

"Our dogs went crazy and soon after Nel and Smit's gardener frantically knocked on our house's windows continually screaming 'They shot them!'," Foulds said, adding that he ran up to the house immediately.

"I could see that there was a struggle and a trail of blood from where they were dragged into the house," Foulds said.

"There were bullet casings lying everywhere," he added.

In the 12 years he had lived in Elandsfontein, Foulds said he had never seen something like yesterday's incident.

Ndlazi said the police would intensify investigations as there had been an increase in robberies.

"It seems they (the criminals) are especially targeting plots."

Police said a 9mm pistol had been used in the attack.

At the time of going to press no arrests had been made and both Nel and Smit were still in a critical condition.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on July 31, 2009


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