Durban - A matric prom night ended in terror for a group of North Coast pupils after one of them was stabbed while others were tied with shoelaces, pistol-whipped and robbed of their belongings by six armed men at a rented holiday home.
The attack comes as thousands of matrics celebrate the end of exams along the KwaZulu-Natal coast.
The Mountview Secondary Verulam pupils attended their prom, held at the Sharks Board auditorium in uMhlanga on Thursday night, after which 16 of them checked in at a holiday home in eMdloti, which they had booked three months earlier. They had planned to spend three days there celebrating the end of their matric year.
But, less than four hours after they had arrived, six robbers armed with guns and knives stormed the house in Bellamont Road at about 2.30am on Friday.
One of the boys, who is undergoing trauma counselling, said some of them were socialising in the double-storey house while others were watching television when they were attacked.
“The robbers gained access to the house by jumping onto a wooden balcony situated at the back. They were extremely aggressive and not wearing masks. They warned us not to look at them while waving their guns and knives at us.”
He said the men ordered them to lie on the floor and they were robbed of their jewellery, cash and cellphones.
“They used our shoelaces and cords from the cellphone chargers to tie some of us up. They also demanded to know how many people were in the house.”
The 18-year-old said some of them were also pistol-whipped.
“One of my friends was knocked unconscious after he was hit on the head with the butt of the gun. They kept demanding the keys to the safe. The more we denied not having it, the more aggressive they became. They terrorised us for over half an hour.”
He said the men eventually fled, taking all their belongings, including their expensive suits and a laptop.
“They did a bad job tying me up. I managed to get up after they left and pressed an alarm panic button.”
He said his twin brother, who had gone to the bathroom downstairs, escaped the attack.
“My brother was about to leave to take some of the girls home. He was delayed because he needed to go to the toilet. While inside, he heard the commotion and screaming.”
He said his brother locked himself in the bathroom and called the police emergency number, 10111, and alerted their parents to what was going on. Their father said they knew immediately his children were in trouble when the phone rang after 2.30am.
He said he had last spoken to them around 10.30pm when they had arrived at the holiday home and called to tell him they were safe.
“My wife and I contacted a local security company. We got there a short while later. By that time, the suspects had fled.”
The teenager said they were shaken by what had happened.
“We are also disappointed that our weekend getaway was ruined.
“It took some convincing for our parents to give us permission for a weekend away. It was supposed to have been three days of fun.
“We worked extremely hard throughout the year,” he said. “It was a really bad start to the holidays.”
He said many of his friends have been getting counselling since the attack.
“I have not seen any of my friends since Friday. Hopefully we will get together in the next few days. But there will be no more stay-overs for any of us.”
Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed the incident. He said one of the teenagers had been stabbed and was taken to hospital.
Meanwhile, sources close to the investigation said it was believed two members of the same gang had struck a short while later at another house on Bellamont Road.
One of the suspects was shot dead by a private security company guard while the other escaped. A laptop was recovered at the scene.
According to Zwane, the suspects were armed with a knife and a firearm.
He could not confirm if the cases were linked.
The Durban North police station was investigating two cases of housebreaking.