Durban - An elderly German woman has been left traumatised after eight robbers – believed to be part of a syndicate targeting farmers – invaded her Camperdown farm home, torturing her with a pair of pliers and threatening her at gunpoint.
The robbers spent several hours in the house repeatedly pinching the woman on her hands and legs with the pliers.
Wearing balaclavas, they stormed the Honigkrantz Farm in Killarney Isles on Friday afternoon and confronted 76-year-old Felicity Schwegmann, demanding cash and guns.
Two domestic workers who entered the house while the robbery was in progress were also bound and gagged with tape.
Schwegmann suffered from Parkinson’s disease, her son said.
She was at home alone at the time, said police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane. “The woman’s husband had just left the home when the robbers attacked.” They are sugar-cane farmers.
Schwegmann was bound and gagged with Cellophane tape, and the robbers then used a pair of pliers to pinch her skin in an attempt to extract information from her, Zwane said. The gang has been dubbed the “sticky tape gang”.
She sustained several injuries to her hands and legs. They also threatened her at gunpoint.
Schwegmann did not have the keys to the safe as her husband, Trevor, had left with them.
The robbers ransacked the home and left with a large amount of cash, jewellery and a cellphone.
Schwegmann’s son, Alistair, who lives nearby, found the victims.
He had gone to check on his mother after he had been unable get hold of her on the phone.
“My mother is a strong woman. Her faith kept her going through her ordeal, but the shock of it has hit her now,” said Alistair.
“It is an extremely traumatic thing for her to have gone through. We are just thankful that she was not badly hurt.”
He said she had received treatment for her injuries.
Police believe the gang is part of a syndicate that has been targeting the Camperdown farming community, saying the gang had attacked another farm in Cato Ridge on February 19.
In that incident, a 40-year-old farm employee was busy feeding pigs when he was confronted by two armed men.
The suspects taped his hands and mouth with Cellophane tape and forced him towards the main house, where eight other robbers, armed with guns, joined the first two. “Once inside, the suspects stormed the strong room and took a .303 shotgun and a pistol as well as live rounds,” Zwane said.
“Jewellery, cash, a camera and a cellphone were also taken from the safe before the suspects fled the scene into nearby bushes.”
When the farmer returned home he found his employee bound and gagged.
Patrols have been stepped up in the area.
Police are appealing to anyone with any information on the latest incident, or information on the whereabouts or identity of the gang members, to urgently contact Captain Linda Gcwabaza at 031 785 9025, 082 459 7064, or by calling Crime Stop at 086 001 0111.