Johannesburg - Much-loved Talk Radio 702 presenter David O’Sullivan was held up at his Craighall home on Sunday by five armed men.
“I was playing in the pool with my two-year-old son when I heard an enormous crash. I thought our nine-year-old had knocked something over or dropped something.
“I went to investigate and was in the kitchen when three armed men ran at me and forced me to lie on the ground. They were shouting at me to tell me where the jewellery was and the guns were.”
“I said ‘bring my two-year-old to me’, and I told them where my wife’s jewellery was. Upstairs I could hear my nine-year-old son shouting. He’s autistic and I knew he wouldn’t be able to understand what was going on or cope with these guys in the house. I asked them to bring him to me too. He came with a bruised face where they’d tried to shut him up.”
One of the robbers was brandishing a pick-axe blade, and O’Sullivan said he knew instinctively that he had to keep everyone calm, or face the risk of being knocked unconscious – or worse – and not being able to look after his sons. He said he talked to the boys continuously as they lay on the kitchen floor, encouraging them to keep quiet or even go to sleep.
“Our floors are made of timber, so I could hear exactly where they were in the house. And then I became terrified that my wife Jacqui, who was out shopping, would return to the middle of this.”
Which is precisely what happened. O’Sullivan’s wife, who is Sasol’s general manager for corporate communications, returned home to find a silver Jaguar backed up in the driveway with the gate jemmied half open. The boot was open and the robbers were ferrying their goods out of the house and into the car.
The men tried to storm her, but Jacqui managed to get back into her car and race off to get help. She got hold of a patrolling security guard, who summoned back-up, and then she phoned the police emergency number 10111.
At the same time, she raised the alarm over Twitter: “Alert!!!! Silver blue jaguar in Craighall area held up my husband @702David & our two boys in our house 30 min ago. No injuries. 5 men.”
The response was excellent, she said. O’Sullivan agreed.
“The main thing is that the police were not responding because a high-profile person had become a victim of crime; they were responding to a call from the national call centre, which really is very heartening.
“It turned out that the gang had tried to hit a house in the street below, but had been thwarted, so they picked us instead. It’s amazing just how much stuff they can get away with in 15 minutes; they cleaned us out.
“We’re all okay, we’re insured and we’re unhurt, that’s all that matters. The most important thing to realise is that if these guys want to get in, they will.
“I’ve heard too many stories of crimes going horribly awry because people wanted to be brave and take on the robbers. I just needed to keep my boys calm, keep the robbers calm so that they took what they wanted and left us alone.” – Additional reporting by Kristen van Schie