Durban - A Chatsworth father believes criminals are using a new modus operandi to temporarily blind their victims while they rob them.
Derrick Sandragasan said his son Bradley, 27, was robbed and beaten in broad daylight by a gang who sprayed an unknown chemical into his eyes and mouth while robbing him.
Sandragasan said Bradley, a sales representative, was in Isipingo at 10.30am on Friday collecting cash from his clients.
He had just left a customer’s store in Inwabi Road when his manager called.
“He climbed into his van and wound down the windows because it was hot, while still speaking on the phone.
“The keys were still in his hands when he says suddenly three men surrounded the car. One of them sprayed a strong chemical into his face, into his eyes and mouth, while the other guy started hitting him, holding him by his throat against the seat. We not sure what they used but it wasn’t pepper spray or tear gas,” Sandragasan said.
He said the third assailant walked around to the passenger side, climbed into the car and started hitting Bradley with an iron pole.
“My son fought back and managed to hit the rod out of his hands. But he was beaten more severely for this.
“They ransacked the car taking everything including his wallet and R10 000 from clients in the cubby. After they had taken what they wanted they sprayed the chemical on his face again and calmly walked to the nearby taxi rank.”
Sandragasan said no one in the busy street came to his aid.
“Everyone just stood and watched. Bradley remembers screaming in agony as his eyes and skin were burning from the chemicals, but no one intervened.”
After the men left, Bradley ran into a store to wash his face and eyes. He then drove to Higginson Highway near Chatsworth before pulling over.
“He doesn’t know how he did it, but knew it was his only hope of getting help. When he couldn’t see anymore he pulled over. Thankfully a friend spotted the van and stopped. They rushed him to hospital. We are unsure when he is going to be discharged. He is complaining of severe head and back pain and the vision in one eye is blurred.”
Sandragasan believes this is a new modus operandi used by criminals so that they can’t be identified.
“We have been told that crime in Isipingo is spiralling out of control and nothing is being done. But we are thankful Bradley is alive. He could have been killed.”
While they have opened a case at the Isipingo police station, they haven’t yet received a case number. Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Mdunge said he could not confirm the attack until it has officially been recorded and given a case number.