Gun-wielding robbers terrorised residents of a small street on Durban’s Berea this week, holding up three people in their home while forcing neighbours, who were responding to their shouts for help, to lie on the pavement.
This was after the robbers tied up the private street security guard, using cable ties to secure his hands behind his back, forced open a driveway security gate and got past two German Shepherds.
The drama in Lawrence Road, which runs between Currie Road and Problem Mkhize (Cowie) Road, began just after 9pm on Tuesday.
Resident Gordon McDonald, the director of Community Chest, said he heard his dogs barking in the house, walked out of his bedroom and saw a man in the dining room down the passage.
He ran back, alerting his partner John Sangerhaus to the threat, locked the door and pressed the panic button.
They both then used all their strength to push against the bedroom door while their attackers, on the other side, attempted to bash it down.
At the time they were unaware that Sangerhaus’s 19-year-old daughter Angelique, a student teacher, had emerged from her bedroom to see what the commotion was. She was confronted by two armed men but managed to slam and lock the door.
Her attackers then kicked it open, forced her out and told her to tell her father to open his door, threatening to shoot her. She was punched in the face when she attempted to alert a neighbour in the street.
McDonald said the men fled in his Toyota Fortuner, which had only been returned to him that afternoon after repairs. It was found on Wednesday in Morningside.
“I don’t know what they did to the dogs. We found one in the road, and he was very disorientated. They would never normally let anyone in the house.
Neighbours, hearing the shouts for help, pressed their own panic buttons and several alarms were going off at the same time.
Neighbour Ken Rae James said he was in bed when he heard someone shouting for help. “I jumped up and pressed the panic button.
“I got my baseball bat and went out on the road and was calling out, asking who needed help. I saw other neighbours coming from different directions.
“As I turned the corner into Lawrence Road, there were two guys standing there. I thought it was the guard, but as I approached I saw one was wearing a balaclava and had a rifle in his hand.
“I turned around, thinking I should walk away calmly and slowly. I heard them say get on the ground. So I put the bat on the floor and went down, praying they did not shoot me in the back. I heard a car pull up and then pull off.”
James said he noticed another neighbour, who had been carrying a sjambok, was also lying on the ground, fending off an attack by one of the robbers who had taken his sjambok from him.
Another neighbour, Chris Charlton, said he had also heard the shouts for help and gone out with his dog. But he had seen James lying on the floor, motioning to him to back off.
Cheryl Johnson from the organisation Save our Berea said last night that violent robberies continued despite street guards, which was very concerning.
“Save our Berea has asked the eThekwini Municipality to extend its Urban Priority Zone, with its added street guards, to include Glenwood, the Berea and Sydenham.
“We feel having this added presence will help,” she said.