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Durban - A Pinetown woman was assaulted and robbed at knifepoint under the notorious Blackburn Bridge, on the N2, when she stopped at a lay-by to let her seven-year-old granddaughter relieve herself.
Maureen Dettman said she was slapped across the head by the robbers and one of them tried to cut her fingers with a knife to get at the rings she was wearing.
On Saturday, Dettman was driving to spend the day with her elderly mother in Ballito when at about 10.15am, her granddaughter, Angelina, said she desperately needed to use the toilet.
“I’ve stopped at this spot a number of times in the past and wasn’t aware there was any danger,” Dettman said on Wednesday.
Seconds after Angelina had relieved herself, Dettman said, two men appeared, one with a knife, and started attacking her.
“They grabbed my handbag from the floor of the car and threw it out of my reach.
“They then used a blunt knife and cut off my Fossil watch,” she said.
“I wear a number of rings which they tried to take off, but they couldn’t because my hands were swollen.”
It was then that the robbers put the knife to Dettman’s fingers in an attempt to cut them and remove the rings.
“I was pleading with them in Zulu, saying I would take off the watch and rings and give it to them, but it’s like they were in a trance,” she said.
“They slapped me across the head and said, ‘You f***ing white b***h, shut up before we kill you.’
“Their eyes were red, they looked mad.
“They were in a frenzy, like they had to get the stuff and get away.”
Although several cars drove past, only one driver came to Dettman’s aid, hooting at the robbers, who tried to run away.
But within minutes another three cars arrived, and some people ran after the men, apprehending them.
Dettman said a short while later, five or six police vehicles arrived and the men were taken to Phoenix Police Station and charged.
She said they found a pocket knife on one of the men, which had not been used on her, as well as what appeared to be a knife sharpener, possibly used to take off her watch.
It is believed a third man might have been involved because Dettman’s personal belongings were not found on the suspects.
“This has been a very traumatic experience. My granddaughter is doing well, she’s been to see a psychologist but at the time she just kept screaming ‘don’t kill my granny’,” Dettman said.
“I think if they had been older, they would have hijacked us because the keys were in the car.”
Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said a case of robbery had been opened.
The suspects appeared in Phoenix Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Zwane said they were expected to reappear in court next on Monday.
He urged people to take precautions and not to stop in the area, but continue to the nearest petrol station.
This is one of several criminal incidents at the same spot over the past two years.
At the end of last year, a South African family visiting from the US were attacked when they stopped to adjust luggage on the roof of their vehicle.
The father, son and daughter were stabbed, but survived.
There have also been several incidents of rock-throwing off Blackburn Bridge, resulting in injury and theft.
Last July, a Chatsworth woman was seriously injured when she was struck in the face by a rock thrown off the bridge.