KwaZulu-Natal - Vossie van Rooyen, 65, rested his head on the patio table, occasionally lifting it to speak, but his lips quivered and he became tearful.
Across his head, neck and back were thick gashes covered with stitches. His white hair was matted with dry blood.
His friend, Brian Dauth, 61, said the robbers who attacked them in their West Riding, Hillcrest home in the early hours of Friday slashed them with a panga and a knife.
Van Rooyen was too traumatised to talk about it.
Dauth was also covered with stitched cuts, on his arm, neck and head. He said he was grateful to be alive after four men broke into their Marion Road home at about 1am.
“I woke up and saw a guy standing next to me. When he saw me open my eyes, he jumped on me and started strangling me. Another guy was on the other side of the bed and he put his hands over my mouth and nose, covering my air passages,” Dauth, a carpenter, recalled.
Trying to protect himself, Dauth grabbed the throat of the man strangling him, but was hit on the arm, and then stabbed.
At the same time, a third man tried to tie a sheet around his head.
“I was then hit on the head with a hammer. I fell off the bed and tried to put my head in the corner of where the bed and wall was, so that they could not smother me.
“One of the guys started stabbing me in the neck while another one told him to aim for the jugular,” he said.
While Dauth talks, Van Rooyen only lifts his head once but, overcome with emotion, lays it down again.
At this stage, Dauth pretended he was unconscious.
However, during his fall off the bed, he knocked over his bedside table, switching on the lamp.
The light in the room showed the attackers that there was a hacksaw in the room and one of them then used it to try to cut the back of his legs.
“It was sore, but I had my life to think about so I just carried on pretending I was unconscious,” Dauth said
The man then stopped cutting and the room fell silent.
Soon afterwards, Dauth heard the internal security door leading to Van Rooyen’s side of the house being opened.
“All of a sudden, I heard the men shouting in Zulu and realised they were in Vossie’s area.
“I just lay there, and then there was silence,” Dauth said.
Dauth waited and then, when he thought they were gone, he drove Van Rooyen to the Hillcrest Police Station where they received medical treatment.
He said the paramedics said that Van Rooyen could have died from the loss of blood.
The men were admitted to hospital, but have been discharged.
Dauth said he believed they were attacked by the same robbers who broke into their home last Tuesday and Wednesday as well as the previous week. Each time the robbers took new things, including their groceries. Dauth said Van Rooyen had recently bought the house and was fixing it and improving the security.
Gavin Eaton, the chairman of the West Riding Neighbourhood Watch, said police had arrested one suspect and were looking for the other three.
The man who was arrested allegedly had one of the men’s cellphones on him and was high on whoonga.
Private investigator Brad Nathanson is also investigating the attack.