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A brave British pensioner is lucky to be alive after fighting off an armed robber in his Cape Town hotel room.
During the struggle, a shot was fired by the robber as he viciously pistol-whipped the former Derby hospital manager about the face and head.
The robber fled, leaving Peter Norledge, 70, lying on the floor, covered in blood.
His terrified wife Christine, 60, who had been screaming at the robber during the attack, called reception for help.
Norledge was rushed to a Cape Town hospital where he underwent two hours of neurosurgery last Friday night to repair a depressed fracture of his skull. Norledge also received sutures to a number of lacerations on his face.
He is still recovering in hospital and will only be discharged in the next few days.
Norledge and his wife were on the last leg of a two-week South African holiday with a 48-strong British tour group when the attack occurred in their fourth floor room at a sophisticated Victoria Junction Waterfront hotel, part of the leading Protea Hotel group.
He told Weekend Argus this week that he and his wife had just poured themselves a cup of tea before getting ready for dinner when they heard a gentle knock on the door.
“It sounded like the housekeeper who had just delivered us some milk for our tea,” he said. “I thought he had come back for some reason. But it was a different bloke who said he had come to check the ventilation. I let him in and the next thing I knew I was looking down the barrel of a gun.
“He instructed my wife and me to lie face down on the bed, but I refused. He then pushed me and demanded money. I opened the room safe and he grabbed two bags of jewellery I had just purchased.
“I wasn’t prepared to let him take them so I tried to hold on to his wrist, and he then grabbed my wallet. I then tried to grab that back from him, and that’s when we started fighting.”
Norledge admitted he was afraid, but said he didn’t want to let his attacker get away.
“But he got the upper hand when he started to hit me with the barrel of his gun. Blows rained down and I covered my head with my hands. Then a shot went off. I don’t know if it was accidental or if he fired it to scare us. The bullet hit the ceiling and ricocheted on to the floor, where it was later found by police.”
He said he heard his wife screaming at the man to stop, and that he thought her shouting had scared him off.
Norledge was attacked at about 8pm last Friday. He was due to leave South Africa with the rest of the tour group on Monday, but will now only return to the UK once he has fully recovered.
But despite a dream holiday spoilt at the end, Norledge said he had no regrets about standing up to the robber.
“What do you do otherwise? Stand there meekly and hand everything over?”
Cape Town detectives are searching for the suspect who is in his mid-30s. He stole Norledge’s wallet containing about R400 and £300 (R4 735) in British pounds.
Police have compiled an Identikit of the suspect, and have obtained hotel CCTV footage of him knocking on doors on the fifth floor, before proceeding down to the fourth floor.
A Protea Hotels spokesperson confirmed the incident. - Saturday Argus