Hero teen killed in bid to stop mugger

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Nathan van Reenen

Durban - When visiting teenager, Nathan van Reenen, saw a woman being mugged near the Moses Mabhida Stadium, his immediate reaction was to try to nab the culprit.

The 16-year-old leapt from the car he was in and chased after the mugger, but it was a decision that would prove fatal. Nathan was stabbed in the neck and died later in hospital.

“I guess that is… just who he was. He was always willing to help people out,” his devastated brother, Luke, said on Monday. “He was such a lovely guy, always smiling. People just loved him. He had such a good heart.”

Nathan had been in Durban for just a few hours when he came across the robbery in the early hours of Saturday morning. Without thinking, the teenager, who lived in George in the Western Cape but grew up in Durban, raced to the woman’s aid.

Her assailant, armed with a knife, stabbed Nathan in the neck, piercing his jugular before escaping along Isaiah Ntshangase (Walter Gilbert) Road.

Nathan was taken to Addington Hospital but died from his wound.

Luke, whose brother had come to visit for the holidays, said his family was battling to come to terms with the death.

“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Luke said.

“He should not have tried to stop that guy.

“It was a bad decision.”

Luke said it was the second tragedy his family had had to endure after his older brother died in a car crash eight years ago, leaving behind his fiancée and then unborn child.

“I don’t have any brothers left now. It breaks my heart what happened. I have cried so much I can’t even cry anymore; I have run out of tears,” he said. “After my older brother died, it was just Nathan and I. Now he is gone too. When my older brother died, it broke up our family as our parents got divorced; now this has happened. Why did this happen to our family again?”

Luke said Nathan had come to Durban to spend Christmas with him. He was supposed to have arrived from George on Thursday night but he missed the bus.

Luke arranged for his brother to get on to another bus, which arrived in Durban on Friday evening.

He said he was meant to pick up Nathan from the bus station on Friday but he was in Richards Bay on a pre-planned camping trip.

“I was going to pick him up from the bus station and then take him back to Richards Bay with me. However, it began raining so heavily that I asked a friend to pick him up and Nathan was meant to sleep at his place until I arrived the next day,” he said.

Luke’s friend took Nathan to his home, dropped off his bags and took him out.

After spending a few hours around town the pair were heading back home when they spotted the mugging.

Luke said his brother got out of the vehicle he was in and chased down the mugger and tackled him to the ground.

“He did not realise the guy had a knife. The robber turned around and stabbed him in the throat - in the jugular,” he said.

Luke said his mother, with whom Nathan lived in George, arrived in Durban on Monday. They planned to cremate the body and take his ashes to the family gravesite on a farm near Golden Gate in the Free State.

“He came down to have a nice weekend and spend some time with me. We were supposed to have had a good time together and be planning a nice holiday together. Now I am planning his funeral. It breaks my heart,” Luke said.

He urged anyone with information on his brother’s murder to contact the police.

“I would obviously want people to come forward and describe what the robber looked like to police. He took my little brother’s life like he was nothing. He is gone and now we will never know what type of person he would have turned out to be.”

Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said investigators attached to the Durban Central police station were appealing to the woman who was allegedly robbed to come forward and report the incident to the police.

“Police have not made any arrests at this stage and are appealing to anyone with information with regards to the suspect to contact investigating officer, Warrant Officer Raven Mundhree, of Durban Central detectives, at 031-325 4660 or 082 783 4760,” Zwane said.

“Information may also be given to Crime Stop at 08600 10111. All information will be treated with strictest confidentiality and informants may remain anonymous.”

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