Durban - Sitting in their Waterfall home on a sunny day overlooking their garden, Dean and Tanya Hayward say the terror they felt on the night of December 23 seems so far away and yet the reality of what they escaped is still sinking in.
The Haywards, with Tanya’s 12-year-old daughter, Jessamine Deyes, were overnighting at Casa Lisa resort 50km north of Maputo on their way to a coastal resort, Zavora, another 400km further, when they were attacked by a group of armed robbers.
The three managed to escape in their bakkie and received assistance from two taxi drivers who helped change the vehicle’s blown tyre and escorted them to a police station.
A South African woman was gang raped and other tourists were tied up and assaulted while 12 robbers looted the rooms and cars.
Talking to the Daily News yesterday, the Haywards – the couple both work in the shipping industry – said they kept reliving the “what ifs”.
Although they were originally supposed to return from their holiday on January 7, the trio cut the trip short, arriving back from Ponta d’Ouro on Monday, in time to celebrate Jessamine’s 12th birthday at home on Wednesday.
The holiday plan was originally to go with a group of about 13 friends to the coastal resort. However, for various reasons, people dropped out throughout the year.
Having heard some worrying stories about militia in Mozambique, Tanya started researching the area and even contacted a UK-based journalist who does a lot of work in Mozambique.
“He said we had nothing to worry about and that, although we must be vigilant, we have more to worry about in South Africa,” she said.
The three had set off from Waterfall at 2am on December 23 and, although they had booked to stay at Casa Lisa, they were hoping to make it to Zavora in one day. However, because of the delay of getting through Maputo, they decided to stop over for the night.
Thinking back to the traumatic morning when they were awoken by the sounds of guests screaming, Dean said it was extremely lucky the men were not alerted to their presence when they were trying to get in the bakkie.
Tanya picked up the story. “They were just so close to us. When we were in the bakkie, we could see the torches. As Dean started the engine the torches were on us and we just floored it. We could see them moving right next to us. Then I just saw fire from the gunshots. My daughter was in the back and I ducked under the dash.”
Dean said the reality of how lucky they were was starting to sink in as they recounted the story to friends and family.
“What if Tanya had been raped and what about the little one? If they had caught us I’m sure they would’ve killed us.”
Bruce Buckland, owner of the Casa Lisa resort, has been reluctant to speak to the media, however he has insisted the incident was isolated.
Dean said he did not think the men who attacked the lodge were militia, rather thugs looking for valuables. He said it also took police several hours to get to the lodge, reportedly because of a lack of vehicles.
“Bruce called us at 5am from the lodge. He said he had locked himself in the reception area and the police were not there yet.”
He said two unarmed policemen arrived later in the day.
“I will go back to Mozambique but only for business,” said Dean. “I won’t take my family back there.”
Tanya, who said she still battled to sleep at night and often found herself reliving the trauma, would not return any time soon.
Buckland told the Daily News he had met police on Tuesday about the armed robbery and rape but that, despite media reports, no arrests had been made.
“They say there are no arrests at this stage but they do have some strong leads.”