Cape Town -
He saw the flash of stainless steel in his attacker’s left hand and knew right then that if he let go of the robber he was dead.
“I had him pinned down, but if I let up just a little bit he could just fling open the car door and stab me,” said John Feitelberg.
When the Sea Point pensioner (he declined to provide his age) broke down on the N2 near the Mew Way turn-off, the last thing he expected was to fight for his life.
But the pensioner managed to survive a small-scale siege when a gang of robbers vaulted over the wall separating the national road and Khayelitsha, descending on his 1999 Honda Ballade.
Feitelberg and his friends were on their way to Somerset West on Sunday afternoon. Plans to see a concert in the suburb were dashed when his car spluttered to a stop near the turn-off to the township.
“The engine had overheated and I started trying to fix it,” he said.
This is when the first opportunistic robber showed his face, clambering over the dividing wall and rushing towards the car. Feitelberg said there was hardly any time to react, and before he knew what was happening, the man had wrestled open the rear-passenger door and ripped a handbag from his friend’s shoulder.
“I screamed at him and he just gave me this defiant look as he ran away… That’s when we all got into the car, locked the doors and I started ringing the police.”
But as he was punching in the numbers he saw three more men climb over the same wall.
“Their leader must’ve had a spark plug or something because he smashed open my window.”
As the glass shattered inside the car, the robber’s accomplices began smacking the back windows, seemingly trying to break them with their bare hands.
“I dropped my phone and that’s when this guy leans into the car to try and grab it.
“Thinking I don’t want him to take my phone, I pinned his arm down. It was only when I saw the knife that I knew I was holding on so he couldn’t take my life.”
While he is not sure how long he sat wrestling with his attacker, he said he would not have been able to hold on much longer. It was then that a security van pulled over, instantly dispersing the gang of robbers.
“I could’ve kissed this security guy,” said Feitelberg.
Sitting at his daughter’s Sea Point home on Thursday, he said he felt lucky to be alive.
“I’m not rattled, I’ve been in dangerous situations before. The rest of my group are traumatised.”
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said police were investigating.