Brazen robbers forced their way into a Hillcrest home at midday on Wednesday, terrorising a family who hid in the bathroom.
While the robbers repeatedly kicked the front door to gain access into the house, the desperate family tried to force open burglar guards to escape.
The robbers eventually broke down the door and confronted the family.
Six armed men, all wearing balaclavas, smashed the front door of the Park Close house where Bishum Maharaj, a property manager, had been seated in the lounge.
Moments before that, Maharaj said he heard his wife and daughter scream in the main bedroom when they saw, through the window, the gunmen climbing over their backyard fence.
Maharaj said he peered through his patio door and saw one of them trying to force open the door. He asked him what he was doing, but backed off when he saw the other men had guns in their hands.
Maharaj pressed the panic button and the alarm wailed as the robbers began kicking the front door. He locked the passage door and ran into his bedroom and ushered his wife and daughter into the en-suite bathroom.
“I locked the doors under the impression that the men would take whatever they wanted and leave,” he said.
But the robbers kicked the passage door to gain access to the rooms.
Maharaj said although the alarm was on, the family could hear the noise of the men kicking at the door.
“My wife was screaming. We attempted to remove the burglar guard in the bathroom so we could escape. Eventually, the men broke the door and found us inside,” Maharaj said.
Broke the door
“They asked for cash, jewellery and valuables. They pulled us by our clothing and pushed us into the kitchen and demanded that my wife deactivate the alarm. I had to help them open the front door. They forced open the driveway gate, loaded my valuables into an awaiting car and drove off,” he said.
Maharaj said his cellphone had been on the couch.
“On their way out, my phone rang. They took it. It was a Christmas gift from my son.”
During the family’s ordeal, another daughter hid herself in a separate bathroom in the house. The robbers were not aware that she was there.
“I thought they came to kill us. The panic alarm saved us,” said Maharaj.
“We have been victims of burglaries and robberies on several occasions before. This has been by far the worst. Life has taken a turn for the worse. I don’t know what to do,” he said. “We underwent trauma counselling. It has become unbearable to look at things from a brighter perspective. You work hard, then you get traumatised. That’s not life.”
Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwanec said the robbers ransacked the house, took jewellery and valuables and fled without harming the family. He said a case of house robbery had been opened at Hillcrest police station.
Steven King of Waterfall Crime Watch described the gang as a highly organised unit that had been committing crimes in the Upper Highway area.
“They kept kicking the door down despite the alarm being activated. This indicates that they must have some sort of training,” King said. “They most probably work on a time-frame and are aware of security company reaction times.” - Daily News