Durban - Internationally respected Aids researcher Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim has lost her bronze Order of Mapungubwe medal, awarded to her by President Jacob Zuma on Freedom Day.
It was stolen by thieves who ransacked her home in Glenwood at the weekend.
Quarraisha was awarded the medal, one of the highest honours to be bestowed on a South African, for her outstanding work in the field of HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and health policy development.
With her husband, Salim Abdool Karim, the professor has been at the forefront of research to develop a gel that could stop women from becoming HIV-positive.
A picture with president Nelson Mandela, a wedding jewellery set (a family heirloom) as well as travel and identity documents were also stolen.
“The theft of our possessions is devastating, because they hold such sentimental value for us. These objects have no value to anyone else, but they have important meaning to our family and we would like them back,” she said.
Surveillance footage of the robbery shows four men wearing balaclavas arriving in a silver Mercedes at the house at 6.35pm on Saturday.
In another robbery, in Greenwood Park, neighbours were held at gunpoint on Saturday evening.
The Baderoon family, who run a charity organisation, were preparing for a Sunday feeding scheme when a gang of five held them up.
“We were done cooking for the pensioners, but we didn’t have supper prepared for the evening so my daughter and I decided to get a takeaway. I noticed that the front gate was open, but didn’t take much notice. I thought my daughter had opened it. Before we knew it, someone had snuck up to the window and was pointing a gun at us,” Fekrey Baderoon said.
The family was robbed of appliances and jewellery.
While the drama unfolded, a neighbour, Trevor Jean-Louis, was also being robbed. His television and cellphone were stolen.
In Seaview, a resident was shot during a hijacking after he was accosted by four armed men. He was stabilised by paramedics before being taken to hospital. The robbers made off with his Hyundai i20.