Sunday, 10 January 2010

Neighbour's brave intervention saves family

Anna Cox

January 04 2010 at 07:00AM

Louis Venter doesn't wear red underwear and doesn't have a cloak, but he is still a superhero to his neighbours in Alberton, south of Joburg.

This after he probably saved the lives of four people yesterday morning when he shot dead a gun-wielding burglar in his neighbour's house.

The drama started around 1am when Venter's neighbour, Deon Holtzhausen, his wife, who he did not want named, and two guests were enjoying an evening together.

Holtzhausen said he opened the kitchen door to let the dogs out when he was confronted by three men. One pointed a firearm at him. The other two were armed with a knife and a screwdriver.

"They took a blanket which was over our pool table and cut it up to tie us up. They threw us onto the floor, demanding a gun, which I don't have. They would not listen to reason," he said.

When the men stripped his wife of her underwear, Holtzhausen realised she was about to be raped.

"I had to distract them from the women, so I offered to open the safe. There was R3 000 in cash. They then had the cheek to sit and share the money between them, dishing it out like a pack of cards while we were lying tied up on the floor in front of them. "They even helped themselves to food and drink from the fridge," he said.

In the meantime, Holtzhausen's 16-year-old daughter was awakened by one of the dogs' incessant barking. She heard strange voices in the house and immediately started phoning whoever she could think of - one of them being their neighbour's son, who alerted his father, Venter.

Venter, a former North West provincial traffic officer, sprang into action.

"I jumped over the wall and walked around the house. My son called the police. I tried to wait as long as possible because I didn't know what the situation inside the house was. All I could hear was women screaming," he said.

Eventually he approached the kitchen door. "All three ran towards me, but when they saw I had a gun, two of them ran back into the house."

The third man, the one with a gun, pointed it at one of the people lying tied up on the floor.

"I told him to drop his gun, but he cocked it instead. That's when I decided I had to fire," he said. The bullet hit the robber in the head, killing him.

Venter chased the other two into the main bedroom, and made them lie on the floor with their hands behind their heads until the police arrived.

Venter is adamant that he is not a hero.

"The heroes of this were Deon's daughter and my son. I did what I had to do. I have very mixed feelings about what I did. It is not easy to kill someone, but we have to help each other as neighbours."

It was discovered later that the robber's revolver had only one live bullet loaded. The rest were empty shells.

"He had the live bullet in the chamber just above the trigger, but did not realise that when the gun is cocked, the chamber moves forward, so he would have fired a blank," he said.

"Those guys were there to stay - they were walking calmly through the house and had only taken jewellery and cellphones - they had not even started on the other rooms.

"They had demanded Deon's car keys and were probably going to spend the next few hours ransacking the house. They probably would have raped the women and the young girl," he added.

Two men, aged 38 and 30, were to appear in the Germiston Magistrate's Court today on charges of house robbery, said police Captain Steady Nawa.

This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on January 04, 2010


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