Durban - Robbers beat and terrorised a Durban executive while ransacking his home, then that evening brazenly phoned him to ask if he wanted to buy back his BMW X3.
The heavily-armed intruders terrified and assaulted Martin Pretorius, 42, managing director of Nashua Durban, for more than an hour on Monday in his plush uMhlanga home.
The gang was one which operated with military precision, targeting people in affluent areas, an investigator said.
Pretorius has hired around-the-clock armed guards to protect his wife and two teenage children.
Minutes before his home was hit, the robbers had forced their way into his neighbour’s home, in Chestnut Crescent, where they bound and gagged the domestic worker while they stole goods.
With their loot, the robbers jumped over a one-storey-high boundary wall, the only one unprotected by an electric fence, and entered Pretorius’s home.
The robbers made off with designer jewellery worth thousands of rand, firearms, iPads, foreign currency, expensive whisky and passports from both homes.
“I read about these incidents all the time. I never expected it to happen to me. It is a terrifying ordeal that I would not want anyone to endure. I don’t want these thugs to target another victim or family. I will go the extra mile to ensure they are arrested.”
Pretorius has hired private investigator, Brad Nathanson, to hunt down the robbers.
Nathanson said he was following several strong leads and was confident of nabbing the suspects.
“This gang targets the affluent areas such as uMhlanga and Hillcrest. They operate with military precision and are very dangerous.”
Pretorius, who suffers from severe arthritis, said he went home at midday on Monday to fetch his arthritis medication.
“For my condition, I have a very powerful infusion of drugs at a local hospital every week. I went to fetch the meds from the fridge to take them to the hospital. I was in the bathroom when I heard the maid screaming.
“As I walked out of the bathroom, I saw two suspects charging at me with guns. I ran into the bedroom and tried to slam the door shut and lock it. They fought back. I then heard more voices telling them to shoot me through the door.”
Pretorius realised he was fighting a losing battle.
“I opened the door because I knew they were going to kill me. They knocked me to the floor and two of them stood on my back. They demanded to know where the safe was.”
He said two of them were masked and looked to be about 22- to 25-years-old.
“The safe was bolted to the wall, behind some clothing. One of them grabbed me by my hair and lifted me off the ground. They demanded the keys to the safe. I told them it was a digital safe.”
They ordered him to open it.
“As I pressed the code, they did the same. This jammed the combination. They then accused me of lying about the code. They put the gun to my head and threatened to shoot.
“One of the guys then asked for the safe cracker to be brought in. He ripped the safe off the wall with a crowbar.”
The robbers took the safe into the kitchen where they smashed it open with a hammer and a boulder from the yard, he said.
“These guys were professionals. They knew exactly what they wanted and how to get it. They did not want big electrical items. They were after money, guns, jewellery, iPads and iPods.”
Pretorius said after about an hour, he and the domestic worker were bound with cords from a cellphone charger and hairdryer, and locked in the bathroom.
“I waited a while and tried to cut myself free. But 10 minutes later, they were back. They demanded the keys to the X3 and the front gate remote. They once again cocked the gun and put it to my head, demanding I open the gate for them.”
Pretorius said he waited for what seemed like eternity before he freed himself.
“I injured myself ripping the cables that bound my hand. I then kicked the bathroom door open. I ran to a neighbour’s house for help. They alerted the police and security company. With minutes, the area was covered in cops.”
His vehicle was recovered about 3km away, in Herrwood Drive.
He said the same evening the suspects, who sounded drugged or drunk, called his cellphone and asked if he wanted to buy back his BMW.
“This made me and my family more afraid. Now, we are living in fear in our own home…”
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said two cases of house robbery were being investigated at the Durban North police station.