Sunday, 18 April 2010

Bloodbath ends bid to save mom-in-law

April 17 2010 at 08:51AM
By Graeme Hosken Crime Reporter

A Pretoria woman is fighting for her life in hospital after she was shot twice in the head while trying to save her mother-in-law from a gang of armed robbers posing as policemen.

Suna Steenberg, who runs Montana Pale and Lapa's with her husband, Jurie, was shot when she opened fire on gunmen who were attacking her mother-in-law, "Tannie Poppie", in their Leeufontein smallholding yesterday.

The attack comes 10 days after matriculant, Ernest Hoon, 18, was shot dead in an armed robbery on his parents' smallholding less than 3km away from Steenberg's home.

In the latest attack two men wearing police uniforms walked onto the Steenberg's smallholding as workers offloaded poles at the premises.

The gunmen got into the heavily fortified double-storey home, which is surrounded by security surveillance cameras and high walls.

Inside the heavily-armed robbers attacked Steenberg's mother-in-law in her bedroom. Her startled screams alerted Steenberg, who grabbed her husband's gun from a safe and ran to her rescue.

Steenberg ran downstairs and opened fire on the robbers. But one disarmed her and grabbed her around the neck.

He shot her at point blank range, striking her through the temple and back of the head and she fell to the ground.

At least one of the robbers is believed to have been severely wounded in the room, which police say resembled a "war zone".

A policeman said that no matter where one looked there were bullet casings and blood.

"It looks like a slaughterhouse."

He added that they had been told at least one of the gunmen was wearing clothes which resembled police uniform.

Stefan Jooste, who was phoned by his workers while offloading poles at the Steenbergs' home at the time of the attack, said when he got there, it looked like a bloodbath.

"I phoned Jurie as I drove to his house. He was crying and pleading for help. All he could say was that Suna had been shot and that he thought she was dead. What I saw when I got there was horrifying.

"Her eyes were bulging out of her head and there was blood all over her face. I could barely recognise her," he said.

As police used helicopters to search for the suspects, who are believed to have escaped in a black Ford Laser, officers cordoned off the scene and forensic experts looked for clues to the gunmen's identities.

Describing the attack, police spokeswoman Constable Mable Sibanda said the men walked into the house, grabbed the elderly woman and forced her downstairs where they demanded money and valuables.

"As they attacked the woman, her daughter-in-law, who heard the screams for help, grabbed her gun, ran to her rescue and opened fire on the robbers, who returned fire and shot Steenberg in the head before they fled," she said.

Sibanda said it was not known if the gunmen had stolen anything.

She said no arrests had been made and police were appealing for information on the identity and whereabouts of the gunmen.

Sibanda said a case of attempted murder and attempted armed robbery was being investigated.

Family spokesman and neighbour, Gert Bester, said Steenberg was in a critical condition in Montana Hospital.

"At the moment her brain is too swollen for doctors to operate. They are going to try and release some of the pressure on her brain before they start any surgery," he said, adding that Tannie Poppie had not been injured in the attack.

This article was originally published on page 4 of Pretoria News on April 17, 2010


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