Johannesburg - Three men were injured on Sunday at a Soweto doctor’s office in Protea Glen in what police said was an attempted robbery.
The robbery was foiled after an off-duty police officer unwittingly entered a Soweto doctor’s office while it was in progress.
Sunday was the second time in two months that young Protea Glen doctor Siyanda Zulu’s practice was broken into. Both times the robbers wanted three things: his money, laptop and drugs.
Sunday’s attempted robbery is the sixth time a doctor’s office has been targeted in two weeks in Protea Glen.
Several doctors in Soweto have been attacked by armed gangs, who have broken into surgeries and demanded antiretrovirals (ARVs) to make nyaope, also known as whoonga.
Nyaope is a drug concoction of dagga, ARVs, cheap heroin and other substances.
Zulu stood outside his practice, which had been cordoned off with police tape on Sunday afternoon, with his voice shaking as he spoke of how one of the three suspects had held a gun against his head and told him to close his eyes and kneel on the floor.
“I had been waiting for my last patient as I was about to close for the day. As I was sitting in my office, a man came in with a gun and pressed it against my head.
“He told me to close my eyes. Luckily, my neighbour (the off-duty officer) had come earlier, saying he would bring his child to be checked.
“When he returned, he noticed something was (not right) when one of the robbers told him to leave,” Zulu said.
The officer called for back-up and within minutes police vehicles swooped. One of the robbers was keeping watch while drinking beer in their getaway blue Toyota Tazz.
Police pounced on him first and when the two robbers from inside the practice arrived, a shoot-out ensued.
“They wanted to take me with them; they still had a gun to my head as we walked out… I was scared… At times like that you don’t know what to do, you apologise for things you don’t know just so they spare your life.
“Had it not been for my neighbour noticing something was wrong and calling for back-up, I don’t know… I just don’t know,” Zulu added. The off-duty officer declined to comment.
The suspects, aged 27, 28 and 29, sustained serious injuries.
One of the men tried to flee the scene, but was shot in the ribs 500m from Zulu’s practice, according to the police.
One suspect was shot in the buttocks, with the bullet exiting his genitals. Another was injured after he was beaten by residents, who stopped him trying to flee.
Two paramedic vehicles arrived just after 3pm and attended to the injured men before taking them to hospital.
Police spokesman Kay Makhubela said the suspects would be charged with business robbery, attempted murder and the possession of an unlicensed firearm.
“As soon as the suspects recover, they will appear in court. One is in a critical condition.”
Zulu said: “I’m really hoping these are the same guys that broke in the first time, because then at least I’ll know they are behind bars.” - The Star