Desperate to call for help after being raped by one of two intruders, a 92-year-old Pretoria woman crawled down a passage, through the lounge, and down stairs to reach a telephone on the porch of her home.
After spending eight harrowing hours with her attackers, who ransacked her Groenkloof home and ate and drank from her fridge, the great-grandmother searched a phone book for the Sunnyside police station number, reported her ordeal and waited for help that never came.
Drifting in and out of consciousness, she realised at 3.30pm last Friday – four-and-a-half hours after calling the police station for help and with no one showing up – that she had to make another call. She managed to call her gardener, who was at a nearby shopping centre. He hurried to the house and found the frail woman battered and bruised.
The gardener phoned the woman’s son.
“The gardener immediately informed me of what had happened. I called my siblings, police and an ambulance,” the son said.
“On my way to the house I kept thinking about who would do something as horrible as this to such an old woman.
“Only a savage would do something like this.”
The two men had entered the three-bedroomed home, where the woman lived alone, at about 10.30 on Thursday night.
“She is very cautious, so at night she locks all the doors to the relevant rooms, including the lounge and kitchen,” her son said.
The woman, who uses a hearing aid, slept through the noise of the intruders breaking through a picture window and doors.
They gained access to the passage and were confronted by her locked bedroom door. “They climbed into the ceiling through the trapdoor and then walked on the roof to her room, where they broke one of the panels to get inside her room,” her son said.
Once inside the room, they awakened the woman and asked her for money.
“She told them she didn’t have much money because her family did all her shopping for her, but told them to look in her bag and take what she had.
“They ransacked the room and threw everything out of the closets.
“One of the intruders didn’t talk to her, he was just looking for what he could take.
“But the other showed a keen interest in her. While his accomplice was ransacking the rest of the house, he raped my mother. At some stage she was also hit over the head with a carpenter file.”
According to the son, the men ate and drank from his mother’s fridge while they waited for daybreak. At 6.30am on Friday, the robbers left.
At 11am the woman crawled to the phone to call for help.
“At this time she can’t account for all the hours, but it appears she passed out a few times.
“I have no idea why she didn’t call me when she first got to a phone. I’m just glad she eventually got hold of the gardener, who could then be with her and call for help.”
The woman was taken on Friday afternoon to hospital, where she is still being treated.
The man said his mother was in shock, but was resilient.
“If you speak to her, you cannot believe that she has been through something like this.
“She is joking about it, but doctors say that is her way of dealing with the ordeal. She is in shock and still has to fully comprehend what happened.
“She told me that she is amused by what happened because she didn’t think anyone would want to rape an old woman like her, but inside I know she is hurting.”
Arrangements are being made for the woman to move to a retirement village, but her son says she will not agree to this without a fight.
“She is a very independent woman, and I know she will not agree willingly to go to a home, but at this stage she does not have a choice.
“After this I cannot allow my mother to live in that house again. It’s just not safe.”
The son added that he would be taking steps with the Sunnyside police station regarding his mother’s initial call at 11am. However, he commended the professionalism and helpfulness of the officers investigating the case.
“They are really doing a sterling job and have shown a lot of determination to catch the perpetrators. We are really pleased with the way they are handling this.
“I’m just concerned about why they never responded to my mother’s initial call at 11am.”
Police said they were investigating the break-in and rape, but no arrests had been made.
They were also investigating the ignored call made by the woman to the police.
“We will have to investigate the allegations of the first phone call with records, to see what happened,” spokeswoman Sergeant Asnath Malatsi said.