Sunday, 6 June 2010

Family's miracle escape during armed raid

June 01 2010 at 08:39AM
By Graeme Hosken
Crime Reporter

A heavily pregnant Pretoria teenager and her mother miraculously escaped death when a gang of armed house robbers opened fire on them at point blank range in an attack on their smallholding.

Chantelle Burgher, 18, who is seven months' pregnant, was at home with her sister, Zaria, 12, her mother, Elaine, and two of her best friends when they were attacked on their Pienaarspoort smallholding in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Chantelle, her sister and friends were watching a DVD when she fell asleep on the couch.

She was woken by her sister's screams when she and their friends were attacked outside by three men as they were saying goodbye to each other.

Jumping up from the couch and with scant regard for her own safety, Chantelle ran to Zaria's rescue.

Unbeknown to her, the gunman had overpowered the three. While one stood over them as they lay face down on the ground, the others were about to break into the family's home.

As Chantelle opened the front door one of the attackers opened fire on her.

Throwing herself against the wall, Chantelle closed her eyes and prayed as the bullets struck the wall centimetres from her head and shoulder, the hot metal fragments tearing into her stomach.

"I couldn't do anything. I just froze. When the first gunshot went off my body went into overdrive. I didn't have time to think. All I could do was pray," she said, adding that she didn't remember bullet fragments hitting her.

As the gunman opened fire on Chantelle, her mother - woken by Zaria's screams, - ran downstairs armed with her gun.

Charging down the passage, Burgher made sure her daughter was safe before she opened fire on the attackers, shooting one of the gunmen.

As she opened fire the other attackers who were still shooting at Chantelle turned on Burgher and fired five shots at her. Miraculously the bullets, which struck her in the chest, side, right arm and elbow, missed all her vital organs.

Chantelle, on her mother's instructions, ran down the passage to the lounge where she phoned neighbours for help.

"When I saw Mom coming down the passage I knew I had to get out to make the call for help."

Chantelle, after phoning neighbours for help, ran back to the passage where she saw her mother kneeling and praying as the gunmen tried to force their way into the house.

"Mom had slammed the door shut so hard it was jammed and the gunmen, who could not get inside the house, were shooting at her through the glass panes.

"When they ran off Mom came to me and said she had been shot and needed to get to hospital. I thought she was going to die. I was so afraid."

Chantelle said her mother underwent an emergency operation at Wilgers Hospital where doctors repaired her shattered elbow.

"Fortunately neither my baby nor I was hurt. It is a miracle none of us was killed," she said.

She said the gunmen, who threatened to take her sister with them when they fled, had escaped in her friend's car. The blood-stained car was later recovered in Mamelodi.

Police said no arrests had been made and that a case of attempted murder and attempted house robbery was being investigated.

Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of the suspects can contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

* This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on June 01, 2010


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