Terror reigned in a street in a leafy Centurion suburb two nights ago, with the body of an alleged hijacker lying covered in the middle of the road, and an elderly couple being treated for shock by trauma councillors on the scene.
What was supposed to be a normal night for Karel and Fienie Liebenberg turned into a terrible ordeal after Karel shot and killed the alleged hijacker who confronted him with a firearm, while three of his accomplices waited in the getaway vehicle, parked behind the Liebenbergs’ silver Opel.
The couple are now living in fear that they will be targeted for a revenge killing.
They spoke to Pretoria News on Tuesday evening shortly after the incident, which has since left them traumatised.
According to Karel, he and his wife were returning to their Rooihuiskraal home, when they noticed a vehicle parked in the street.
Being an active crime fighter, the chairman of the Rooihuiskraal Extension 6 Block Watch, immediately turned up his level of alertness. “I saw the vehicle, but thought it could be visiting at a neighbour, but I also became more alert. I got out of the car to open the gate and garage. As I was walking back to my car, the vehicle pulled up behind my car in the driveway. A man got out very fast and approached me, then he put a gun to my face.”
Karel said the events of the next few seconds happened so fast that it was inexplicable. “I had my own firearm on me and I was dead certain he was going to shoot me. I feared for my life and that of my wife and pulled out my firearm and fired it at him.”
Karel said, the man fell to the ground and his accomplices immediately fled. “After I fired the shot I was frozen.”
Fienie described how, in a complete state of shock, she managed to jump out from the passenger side, to get to her husband on the other side of the vehicle, believing he was the one who had been shot.
“I wasn’t even sure what was going on, I heard the shot and immediately got out of the car to go to Karel. When I got to the back of the vehicle, I saw the robber on the ground and the getaway vehicle making off, but I wanted to see if Karel was injured. He was completely frozen,” Fienie said, with hands still shaking.
The couple, as well as neighbours who had emerged from their homes after hearing the commotion, managed to contact police and paramedics. Karel said that paramedics tried to resuscitate the man, but he was later declared dead.
“This is the worst feeling in the world. To shoot someone is very traumatic. I thought he was going to shoot me when he pointed that firearm at me, I don’t know where I got the motion from to grab my gun. Everything happened so fast. I am just glad my wife and I are okay,” Karel said.
Karel said that in the nine years that he lived in the area, and in his 60 years on earth, he had never before been confronted by such a situation, nor did he believe he ever would.
“I cannot even begin to imagine if things had turned out differently. I don’t want to think about what could have happened to me and my wife,” Karel said holding his wife’s hands.
On Wednesday, the family were in discussions on the way forward after their ordeal. “We are afraid of what will happen now. We are not sure if those other men will come back for us, and especially now that one of them has died. They know where we live and they know we are old,” a still shaken Karel said.
He said that beefing up security at the house was an option they were strongly considering.
According to other residents in the street, crime in the area had picked up over the last year.
A Monitor Net security guard who patrols the area agreed with the sentiments.
Karel confirmed this. “In my capacity as Block Watch chairperson, I am aware of a similar hijack incident a few streets away late last year. Then a few weeks ago, my neighbours were held up in their house by robbers. The problem is no matter where you go, there will be crime.”
Police confirmed the incident at the Liebenberg’s home and said that the dead robber’s firearm was recovered at the scene.