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Durban - A Hillcrest father of two is counting his blessings after surviving an hour-long ordeal at the hands of four armed intruders who tied him up, hit him with a hammer and tried to cut off his finger to take his wedding ring on Monday night.
In the wake of the attack, police have warned that, with the festive season approaching, there has been an increase in robberies.
The national crime statistics released in September said there had been a year-on-year drop of 6 percent in robberies in KwaZulu-Natal.
However, Hillcrest police spokesman France Mkhize said that “everyone is shopping at the moment” and property owners needed to be alert and not lax on security.
On Tuesday night, Douglas Gordon, a 55-year-old lighting designer, was still recovering from his ordeal. His son, Justin, 24, had flown in from Cape Town and his daughter, Cassidy, 18, was on her way from Stellenbosch University to be with him.
His wife, Sheryl, a teacher at St Mary’s Diocesan College for Girls, was on a school trip in the Drakensberg when the incident took place. She was only told of the attack on Tuesday.
Gordon was enjoying a quiet evening alone at home with a crossword puzzle when four men burst into his living room. The Gordons are renovating their home and the robbers used tools that were lying about the house to assault him.
“They threw me down, then two of them used hammers to beat me,” he said.
He was gagged with a cloth that, he said, smelt as if it had been soaked in chemicals. Throughout the ordeal he lost and gained consciousness several times.
The men asked him where his money was and he told them they could take his wallet, but there was no cash in it.
They tried to suffocate him with a pillow and continued hitting him with hammers. One of them tried to hack his finger off to take his wedding band. When he started to bleed his ring slipped off and he handed it over.
They continued to ask him where to look for money. When he said there was none, they used electrical cable to tie his hands together then dragged him to where the safe was and made him unlock it.
To his assailants’ dismay there was nothing there besides documents. They asked Gordon if there was another safe and he told them there was, but that there were only old cellphones in it. He opened that safe and they again became agitated when they found there was no cash.
“The man with the gun told me to get on my knees and he shoved the gun down my throat. I thought I was going to die,” said Gordon.
The gunman made racist comments and told Gordon to “say goodbye”.
“I prayed and I don’t know if the gun jammed or what happened, but it did not go off.”
Then Gordon said he heard the man speaking in Zulu to someone on a cellphone. “He told the person on the other line he did not need to be fetched because he was going to take my car.”
The man then asked Gordon if his car had a tracker and the men tied him up, before leaving in his silver Honda Jazz which had been loaded with numerous household appliances.
Gordon managed to untie himself and crawl to the room of the family’s domestic worker, Eugenia Mkwayi, who raised the alarm by pushing the panic button.
Police confirmed a case had been opened, but no arrests had been made. - The Mercury