Durban - A brutal home invasion has left an 80-year-old grandmother dead after she was struck repeatedly on the head with the butt of a gun - and then shot as she pleaded for her life.
Radhika Roopnarain’s two sons could only watch helplessly as their mother met a horrific end at their home in Duffs Road, Durban North, on Saturday night.
For politician Narendh Ganesh, who also lives on the property with his aunt, parents and cousins, but in separate homes, crime has hit close - and hard.
Ganesh said that while his family was lying on the floor with a gun pointed at them, one of the four robbers took a bag and started shoving goods into it, including a brass god lamp, which the robber may have believed to be made of gold.
He also took jewellery and an undisclosed amount of cash.
“He then repeatedly butt-whipped my aunt on the head, while her sons watched.”
A bullet also grazed his cousin’s leg.
Ganesh, leader of the recently launched party Minorities of South Africa (Mosa), said he would not forget the gory sight.
He described the robber and his three accomplices as “callous criminals”.
“I’ve been calling for a forum to march to Parliament for government to change laws and increase law enforcement, but the community at large is not wanting to get actively involved because they rely too much on private security companies and high gates, which is a belief that we are safe,” he said.
“I will continue to appeal to people because everyone is a target irrespective of where they are.
“The more we police our streets ourselves, the more chances of it being safer.”
Ganesh said his aunt, who would have turned 81 this Saturday, lived in separate premises with her two sons, aged 48 and 56. Her daughter lived elsewhere.
“The incident happened at around 7pm. Four armed robbers scaled the boundary wall at the back of the house and approached the gardener, who was in his living quarters on the property.
“They held him to the floor at gunpoint and demanded bolt cutters, probably to use for the burglar guards, but there were none.
“While one kept guard over him, two others kept watch on the premises and the fourth headed for my aunt’s home.”
He said his cousin, Sahadew Roopnarain, was sitting on the porch when the gunman appeared.
“The robber took him indoors at gunpoint. He was very threatening and menacing.
“My other cousin, Prem, was in the kitchen preparing supper and they were both hustled into my aunt’s bedroom.
“All three were forced to lie on the floor, while the robber demanded to know where the safe and jewellery was.”
After the aunt was hit, Ganesh said the robber fired a shot at Sahadew - and then a second shot, at his aunt.
The bullet entered and exited her left leg, and struck her right leg.
The robber then again struck the octogenarian several times on her head before fleeing.
Ganesh said the brothers remained in the bedroom tending to their mom and did not leave until they were certain the man had left.
The gardener was also assaulted.
Ganesh said the ordeal, from when the quartet arrived, lasted about 25 minutes.
He said his dad, councillor Deochand Ganesh, who also lived on the property, was at his home.
Said Deochand: “I heard a noise but was not sure if it was a gunshot or the clang of metal. I went outside, checked and nothing was untoward.
“I returned indoors and that is when I heard the gardener yell for help. When I opened the door he was standing there, bleeding.
“Just then, Sahadew arrived and said his mother had been shot. I went to the house and she was lying in a pool of blood.”
He said Roopnarain’s blood pressure was exceptionally low and she died on Sunday morning at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital.
She was cremated on Monday.
Deochand added: “It seems the people perpetrating crime are under the age of 30, and they are agile, as they can scale fences and walls. As long as criminals are treated with kid gloves, incidents of crime will not come down.
“We need harsher penalties, bail must be more stringent and parole must not be like a carrot dangled in front of them, where they know if they behave well in jail, they will get released early.”
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said charges of murder, attempted murder and house robbery had been opened at KwaMashu Police Station for investigation.
He said four suspects aged between 23 and 30 had been arrested and would appear in the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court.