A Pretoria lodge owner and a security guard are fighting for their lives in hospital after armed assailants, who tied them up and ransacked the lodge premises, shot and stabbed them in the stomachs as they fled.
The attack, which took place at the four-star luxury Rhuslancea Lodge in Hennops River Valley area, northern Gauteng during the early hours of Saturday morning, is apparently part of a wave of violent crimes gripping the area.
The gang struck just after 1am when they dug a hole under an electric perimeter fence and overpowered a security guard.
After tying up the guard, several of the robbers stood watch over him while their accomplices made their way to the lodge's main house where they forced their way inside through a back door.
Once inside, the gunmen overpowered the owners Riaan Malenze, 35, and his wife, Tertia, and tied them up before ransacking the house and forcing open a safe, which is believed to have contained firearms, jewellery and cash.
It is believed that the gunmen then taunted the couple threatening to sexually assault them before they opened fire on Malenze shooting him in the stomach.
It is not known how many times Malenze was shot.
As the gunmen who shot Malenze fled, their accomplices, who were keeping watch over the guard, stabbed him repeatedly before escaping. Malenze was rushed to Unitas Hospital by his wife, while the guard, who police have declined to name, was taken to Kalafong Hospital.
Both are in a critical condition.
Erasmia police station commissioner Superintendent Faan Steynberg confirmed that the robbers had gained access to the property by digging a hole under the perimeter fence which is electrified.
"They knew exactly what they were doing. Some went straight to the owner while the others overpowered the guard.
"This is a particularly nasty crime. It appears as though the owner and the guard were deliberately shot. It looks as though they shot them for the fun of it," said Steynberg, adding that a task team was in the process of tracking down the gunmen.
Sharon Bernhardt, who runs a community assistance programme in Hennops River Valley, said crime in the area was increasing. "We have a lot of robberies, especially violent ones," she said, highlighting the attack on Chris and Rachelle Lubbe who were attacked and tortured with a hot iron after being tied up and assaulted earlier this year.
Rachelle was burnt on her left breast, shoulder and buttocks while Chris was burnt repeatedly on his back. The couple and their family left for Australia two weeks after the attack, said Bernhardt.
Bernhardt, herself a victim of three robberies, said crime was happening more often.
"The attacks happen on such a regular basis that residents are becoming used to them," she said.
Agreeing, Claire Sayer, owner of Fossils Family Kitchen and Pub, said people were attacked every month.
"It is definitely getting worse, especially the violent attacks," she said, adding that her family had also fallen victim to armed robbers.
Captain Tessa Jansen, police spokesperson, said the gunmen gained access to the house by forcing their way through a back door before they made their way to the couple's bedroom where they overpowered and tied them up.
"The robbers ransacked the house and then shot the owner before they fled with their loot," she said, adding that cases of attempted murder, armed robbery and assault were being investigated.
Kate Chvitanic, Unitas Hospital spokesperson, confirmed Malenze was in a critical condition in the hospital.
Family spokesperson Johan Snyman, declined to comment.
Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of the attackers can contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111.